Pace Development Group ups the ante on Johnston Street

Freshly lodged with City of Yarra, Abbotsford's 247-249 Johnston Street is back in the spotlight with Pace Development Group endeavouring to gain approval for a 14 level residential building.

Although shorter than a failed proposal by the previous developer Abbotsford JV Pty Ltd to gain approval for a residential building onsite, the current 247-249 Johnston Street if approved would still stand as one of the suburbs tallest buildings. Pace Development Group secured the development site during early 2015 and had initially gone to Council requesting a 19 level residential tower.

With the current application lodged four weeks ago, Yarra City Council will not decide upon the merits of the application until at least the end of March.

247-249 Johnston Street application summary

Artist's impression of the new streetscape. Image by SJB Architects
  • Application submitted February 2016
  • Onsite commercial buildings include St Crispin House, over a site area of 2,300sqm
  • Proposed 14 level buildings @ 48.84 metres
  • 167 apartments: 68 x 1BR, 7 x 1BR+S, 85 x 2BR, 2 x 2BR+S, 5 x 3BR
  • 3 level basement incorporating 214 parking spaces, 205 bicycles and 193 storage spaces
  • 2 ground floor retails spaces of 153.7sqm and 450sqm
  • Communal amenities include pool, BBQ area, deck, lounge/dining space and landscaped area
  • Nominal project cost: $45 million

Height and heritage

A previous proposal for 247-249 Johnston Street landed at VCAT during 2012, and although unsuccessful the current development team have taken queues from that case in order to aid their planning application.

Rejected for differing reasons at 17 levels, the current proposal calls for 14 levels where council have nominated 8-10 levels as their preferred outcome under the Johnston Street Local Area Plan which was adopted during December 2015. Urbis have noted within the current town planning report that "these are heights and street setbacks as guidelines only, with the primary goal being to achieve the design objectives."

In addition VCAT at the time found that “there would be no unreasonable amenity impacts resulting from a tall building (whether it be 11, 14-16 or 17 storeys)” at 247-249 Johnston Street, perhaps indicating that a building of 14 levels for height purposes alone would be acceptable.

Expected Stafford Street interface. Image by SJB Architects

The existing St. Crispin House facade and other heritage elements within the 1923-built building are to be partly retained and incorporated under the new design with between 2.5 to 5.5 metres setbacks in place behind the retained facade.

Designated as having local historical and aesthetic/architectural significance, St. Crispin House falls under Heritage Overlay (HO410) and as such requires that prior to any demolition being green lighted the proposal needs to “demonstrated that the removal of part of the building or works does not negatively affect the significance of the place.”

To the rear of the site and Stafford Street will host a stand-alone five level residential building on what is now a warehouse in a separate structure to the mid-rise building.

Northern exposure

247-249 Johnston Street represents a strengthening of Pace Development Group's activities north of the Yarra after reeling off a string of residential projects in bayside Melbourne. Mentone, Windsor and St Kilda have accounted for nine individual projects in recent years with Evo at 107-115 Manningham Street, Parkville their sole project north of Melbourne's CBD.

The Abbotsford proposal joins existing Collingwood and Brunswick projects with the three producing roughly 360 dwellings for the developer.

808 Sydney Road. Image by 4D Studio

With Pace Development Group's website suggesting 247-249 Johnston Street is expected to launch in the second half of 2016, it joins 808 Sydney Road with that project accounting for 1/3 of available apartments since its launch during February. This follows a successful campaign by CBRE City Sales which saw the 2,023sqm development site sold during 2015.

Pace Development Group have slated demolition for June with excavation/construction to commence on 808 Sydney Road directly thereafter.

1 comment

Bilby's picture

It's tall, but sits as a bookend next to the railway, so maybe acceptable in the context of the structure plan. What's with the faux precast Ando-crete walls, though? If you're going to do an architectural finish ... do it with some expertise and finesse, or don't do it at all ... unless there is some zany plan to tie the cantilevered wall sections with reinforcing bars and cast the podium insitu? Now that would be something ...

Even so, I give this design thumbs down. It's clunky and poorly resolved.

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