Three Melbourne projects indicative of the times

The well documented surge in apartments within the CBD over recent years looks to be dissuading developers from the inner city residential apartment sector. Whilst the masses of apartments roaring toward completion have taken the steam out of the apartment market, hotel and student accommodation projects have, in the interim, attracted a proportionately larger slice of the planning pie.

City of Melbourne are handling three prime examples, all of which were submitted late last year, which point toward this trend.

Generally rolled into larger, mixed-use developments over recent years, the smaller stand-alone hotel is making a comeback. Two such examples are in the pipeline, with one potentially accounting for a historic Melbourne facade.

A new Elizabeth Street perspective. Image: Kyriacou Architects

601-603 Elizabeth Street is an eye-catching proposal for a thin 15 level hotel tower encompassing 72 suites.

On little more than a 202sqm site, the design by Kyriacou Architects sees a 49m tower finished in intricate China white concrete panelling which splays above the entrance, forming a unique canopy. Local firm Nicson Property Group is behind the project and hopes to gain approval for the design which involves solely single bedroom suites ranging in size between 17sqm and 23sqm.

Approval of the project would further extend the mixed-use nature of City North, a designated development precinct which includes the Elizabeth Street stretch north of the CBD. Research, medical, commercial, student accommodation, apartment and affordable housing builds have all been delivered in recent years throughout the precinct.

601-603 Elizabeth Street potentially may add another use to City North.

244-248 Flinders and design references. Image: Armsby Architects

Yooralla's former headquarters at 244-248 Flinders Street is also subject to a hotel-based planning application.

Moremas Land Pty Ltd is seeking to replace the historic building with a 13 storey complex which includes 215 hotel rooms, consisting of deluxe and standard room options. Also present across ground level is a walkway linking Flinders Street and Degraves Place; this will be the spine for a new retail arcade featuring 6 new leasable spaces and a restaurant fronting Flinders Street.

244-248 Flinders Street is hoping to drop into an area flush with hotel suites. Westin Melbourne, DoubleTree by Hilton, Rendezvous Hotel and Adelphi Hotel are all a short distance away, whilst Urban Melbourne last week noted Vibe Hotel as taking on branding rights for 1 Queen Street nearby.

Originally, the Flinders Street site was home to a single storey shop built in the late 1800's. According to planning documents, "At the start of the 20th century a two storey building "Snows" menswear was built and was then significantly modified by Tattersalls in the late 1950's. The building has continued to undergo alterations internally and externally throughout the years, including major internal and facade works in the late 1990's."

How Melbourne City Council reacts to the proposed demolition of 244-248 Flinders Street in a sensitive strip of heritage buildings remains to be seen.

The existing building. Image: Armsby Architects

Having no such heritage qualms is Zebra House at 303-305 Royal Parade, which will be University of Melbourne's (UoM) latest student accommodation project.

The well known Royal Parade commercial building will in time become another domicile for students, adding to the thousands of current student accommodation beds in development around the inner city. Breathe Architecture and Architectus will oversee the existing building's transformation into 332 student beds.

This will be achieved by repurposing the existing building, and adding a smaller 6 storey wing at the rear of the site.

UoM picked up the ageing building during 2014, reportedly for $25 million. Shortly thereafter UoM declared 303-305 Royal Parade to be an integral part of the institution's strategy of providing at least 2,000 new student beds by 2020.

Zebra House. Planning image: Breathe Architecture


Bilby's picture

244-248 Flinders Street is a grade C heritage listed building in an intact heritage streetscape in one of the CBD's most iconic Heritage Overlays. To even propose demolition is insulting to Melburnians.

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SYmlb's picture

I agree Bilby, to propose full demolition of that site without even attempting to retain anything seems very unnecessary, I am eager to see what CoM has to say about it. Very mediocre design at best, too.

Knock it back.

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Rohan Storey's picture

Yes re the Flinders Street one, will be interesting to see what the City of Melbourne says - and the heritage report with the planning documents is much more accurate than the planning dc quote above - it was built as Snow's in 1936 replacing their earlier 2 storey building, and the facade hasn't been changed since (except for the window framing being replaced with aluminium, but like the 30s patterns). The changes in the 50s were to the rear and the interior.

There's a bit of heritage consideration with the Elizabeth Street hotel too - the honeycomb is striking, but it has no relationship with the fine 1859 Royal Artillery Hotel next door. In fact its rather dominating. And do they own the hotel too ? or is the honeycomb on the side wall actually blank ?


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