Plaza revamp heralds new optimism in west
AN AGEING Footscray shopping centre that fund manager Australian Unity sold to developer Banco in 2010 is set to be redeveloped into a $100 million-plus, 10-level mixed-use complex with 234 flats.
The Footscray Plaza, on an island site bound by Albert, French, Irving and Paisley streets, is the latest in a series of major developments about to take shape in the western suburb, five kilometres from the central business district.
Banco plans to extend and modernise the existing multilevel shopping centre, increasing retail floor space. New eateries will open out to Albert Street, while a dominant ramp leading into the current complex will be demolished. All-up, the new plaza will include 543 car spaces.
The centre will appear more prominent along the suburb's skyline due to five extra residential floors Banco plans to build atop the shopping centre.
A vegetable garden will be developed on the complex's rooftop with plots available for investors to buy.
Tenants Coles and Kmart, which occupy a combined 84 per cent of Footscray Plaza, have recommitted to the larger complex, set to relaunch in 2014. The retailers will continue trading throughout the refurbishment.
While much attention has in recent years been given to the riverside Footscray land known as the Joseph Road precinct, north-east of the Footscray railway station, Banco has built a land-bank within the more established section of the suburb, west of the rail stop.
As well as the plaza, Banco also controls sites formerly associated with retailer Dimmeys Forges on the north-west and north-east corner of Albert and Paisley streets.
These are considered future development sites - possibly able to be linked to the plaza via footbridges over the road.
Elsewhere in the area, Grocon has started building an office on McNab Avenue, part of a $350 million rejuvenation of land around the train station.
Two apartment towers of 32-levels are proposed for land within the Joseph Road precinct. Several others of between 20 and 30 levels have been proposed.
Banco paid $20 million for the plaza.
A poke in the eye
THE million-dollar harbour views ING hopes visitors will pay to see from the Southern Star Observation Wheel will in part be obscured by MAB Corporation's next two Docklands skyscrapers.
The distinctive glass buildings - images of which were circulated to the developer's VIP database this week - will be distinguished by angled-peak roof lines.
MAB is refusing to discuss the proposal, which appears to rise 20 levels from a parcel of land where the developer's New Quay precinct connects to ING's Waterfront City.
Waterfront City includes low-rise residential and commercial buildings around the Southern Star Observation Wheel, which - in its short duration - enjoyed unobstructed water views.
That view will now be enjoyed by residents of MAB's latest towers. The project is expected to include ground-level retail.
A REALISATION auction for the estate of Ray Steele, OBE, former president of the Victorian Cricket Association, treasurer of the Australian Cricket Board, and Richmond footballer, is expected to reap about $5 million - and possibly provide developers two inner-northern development projects.
The largest property - a 908 sq m block at 53 Kellett Street, Northcote, includes a two-storey complex with eight two-bedroom units returning annual rent of about $118,320. A smaller block of 722 sq m at 13 Mansfield Street, Thornbury, - with a six-unit complex - returns about $90,960 a year.
According to Gray Johnson and Love Real Estate, the Northcote site is expected to sell for about $3 million, and Thornbury should sell for about $2.2 million.
THE Coptic Church has asked God to bless a skyscraper it was permitted to develop - by ministerial intervention - in late 2011 and has finally started marketing.
The church plans to replace the former Steamworks Sauna at 279-291 La Trobe Street with a 43-level apartment building that will include a new place of worship on the lower levels, and 283 units above. The church paid about $6.35 million for the land in 2010. The residential conversion is expected to have an end value of more than $120 million.
The church has offered its followers the first choice of flats within the complex. Most will be configured with one or two bedrooms.
An official and low-key launch for the project, to be known as the Eporo Tower, took place recently.
The section of the church's website devoted to the new development asks God to "bless this work for the glory of his holy name".
$3m tip for shop
HOSPITALITY firm Hugos Group has listed for sale a prominent shop in Brighton.
One of the group's owners, Daniel Vaughn, who runs the popular Pantry Restaurant and Pantry Deli in Church Street, is offering the deli freehold with a 10-year lease.
The 118 sq m shop is expected to sell for about $3 million, reflecting a yield of about 3.8 per cent based on the building's first-year annual rent of $115,000.
Nichols Crowder's Matt Nichols and James Glen will auction 5 Church Street with CBRE's Mark Wizel and Scott Orchard.
Hugos Group also owns venues in Sydney's Kings Cross and Manly.
Fishermans Bend start
PLANS will be lodged this month for what is Fishermans Bend's biggest proposal yet - and the one sources expect will be the first to start construction in the 240-ha zone - Australia's biggest urban infill project.
Developer Vicland Corporation is proposing to replace an industrial site at 60-82 Johnson Street with a $1 billion complex including lower level retail and two 50-level apartment towers.
Another two towers - 27 and 21 levels - will also rise from the site, next door to the former Neverland Nightclub, which recently lost its licence and closed permanently.
Vicland's village will include 1600 units, able to accommodate more than 2500 residents.
Vicland director Bill McNee said he planned to start marketing and building the first tower this year.
Vicland, which pushes through its own projects, has also been known to buy development sites with existing permits in place.
It is responsible for several inner-city projects previous owners were unable to build due to the economic downturn.
A stream of Fishermans Bend projects have been submitted to Planning Minister Matthew Guy for review this year, but as yet none have been approved.
Most projects, including Vicland's, fall within the Montague Precinct, which is within walking distance of the established Docklands and South Wharf districts.
Another three neighbourhoods - Lorimer, Sandridge and Wirraway - will be developed as part of Fishermans Bend.