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CoM moves to provide clearance for 63 Exhibition's lofty ambitions

Salta Properties' latest project is poised to clear a major planning hurdle at City of Melbourne's Future Planning Committee sitting this evening.

Council planners have recommended approval for Salta's mixed-use tower at 57-63 Exhibition Street. Replacing ASF House, the currently 203m tower with an expected development cost of $255 million may be required to ditch a number of floors in order to prevent overshadowing of Birrarung Marr.

City of Melbourne planners have requested it be reduced to 183 metres. A mix of hotel and residential, 57-63 Exhibition Street's fate is ultimately with the Planning Minister.

Should the final green light be given, Salta will be in a strong position to woo a hotel operator for the project's 185 suites which range between 34sqm and 82sqm. The immediate area surrounding the Exhibition Street proposal is already a magnet for premium hotel brands; Stamford Plaza, Sheraton Melbourne, Sofitel, Grand Hyatt and a pending NEXT outlet are present.

Exhibition Street perspective. Planning image: Bates Smart

57-63 Exhibition Street's ground plane treatment has seen a laneway inserted, connecting Strachan Lane and Chester Lane. Incidentally Strachan Lane was subject to a creative urban art installation earlier this year which riled Council.

Report documents talk of the the "considered placement of openings and fine detailing in the (proposal's) podium facade and the ramp’s internal elevations, this alluring detail and materiality becomes the focus of Chester Lane when experienced from Flinders Lane, enticing passers by to explore further." The design also allows for adjacent properties to be redeveloped in an equitable manner.

City of Melbourne planners have called for further design changes in addition to the slight height decrease. Fenestration to the southern boundary wall above a height of 80 metres has been sought, along with further detail regarding the proposal's ground floor plane.

Broadly, the proposed development exhibits a high quality design, providing a podium that will successfully integrate with the height and detailing of adjacent graded historic buildings in addition to providing a high degree of activation and site permeability. The tower component achieves adequate separation and setbacks, and the design exhibits excellent internal amenity.

Subject to the recommended conditions, it is considered that the subject site can support a building of this scale, and the proposal will make a positive contribution to Exhibition Street and Melbourne’s City

Report to the Future Melbourne (Planning) Committee
Faceted to the floor. Planning image: Bates Smart

For Salta, the nod from Council tonight is a major step toward securing approval for the site which was entered into a joint venture with Malaysia’s Asia One. Although Asia One held the site outright initially, scant little has been heard from the developer since the joint venture was announced; perhaps a coincidence but Salta Properties Pty Ltd is the sole entity listed within the report to Council.

Regardless, 57-63 Exhibition Street adds to Salta's pending apartment development pipeline.

Their Park House project at 627 Victoria Street, Abbotsford has seen Icon Co installed as preferred builder, with a start to the 500 plus apartment build imminent. Also on the radar is 695-699 La Trobe Street, a 28 level tower containing rental apartments and hotel suites.

Upon approval, 57-63 Exhibition Street would join 249-261 Queens Parade, Clifton Hill and additional apartment projects within the Salta's Victoria Gardens precinct as future projects.

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