Southern hemisphere's tallest building shelved
Ambitious plans to build the southern hemisphere's tallest skyscraper in Southbank have been abandoned.
Fender Katsalidis Architects, the consortium behind the landmark Australia 108 building earmarked for 70 Southbank Boulevard, has confirmed it is redesigning plans for the site after a "hybrid of requirements" - from bodies such as VicRoads and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority - rendered the proposal "impossible".
Planning Minister Matthew Guy approved the 108-level proposal in March after a short consultation period and despite objections it would create traffic congestion and cast shadows over the Shrine of Remembrance. It was also claimed the building would obstruct a flight path.
Its scale was also rejected by Melbourne City Council.
New plans for the 2642 sq m site are expected to result in a relatively more modest sub-100-level tower or two 50-plus level buildings, but this could not be confirmed.
The owners said they were discussing with builders and consultants ways to advance constructing options.
The $600 million Australia 108 had received approval for a height of 388 metres and included a skyrise hotel atop 664 prestige apartments and lower-level retail precinct.
It was unveiled immediately after an unsuccessful advertising campaign to sell the site for about $25 million last year. Throughout that campaign, advertising material touted a permit issued by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in 2010 for a major 72-level, 607-unit apartment complex.
The Southbank site remained on the market for private sale in the months after Australia 108 was unveiled.
The site is currently identified with a low-rise office building, for years the head office of international explosives and fertiliser giant Incitec Pivot, which now leases space in nearby Freshwater Place.
At present Melbourne's tallest tower is the Eureka building which soars 297 metres, or 92 levels. Eureka was developed by the Katsalidis group between 2002 and 2006. Gold Coast's Q1 - Australia's tallest building - rises 323 metres.
PV's fire sales
Places Victoria - the state government's cash-strapped development arm - is understood to be in advanced negotiations to sell a Footscray development site near the Maribyrnong River.
PV paid $21 million for the 1.3-hectare LeMans Toyota dealership at 4-16 Hopkins Street, with plans for either a joint venture, a residential redevelopment, or to sell the project, once a new permit was obtained.
Apartment buildings of more than 30 levels have been approved for blocks surrounding the PV asset, about 5km west of town, on the Kensington border.
After listing the site for sale in May, the government agency sought permission from Mr Guy to replace the outgoing car dealership with an 800-dwelling residential village. Despite that plan, it's expected the site will sell for about $18 million.
Knight Frank's Ken Smirk and Leigh Morris are selling the Footscray asset with Savills' Clinton Baxter and Nick Peden.
PV is expecting about $8 million for another Footscray property, the Binks Ford site, which it bought for $11 million a few years ago.
This week, PV announced it would sell 680 ha of land at Craigieburn and Epping in the north, and Officer in the south-east.
The department, which reported an $18.8 million loss in the 2011-12 financial year, is also sub-letting its flash Docklands offices and moving to more modest CBD accommodation.
Resort forges ahead
Central Mallacoota is set to expand - part of the local council's plan to make the coastal holiday village "a cohesive and active town centre". The council is rezoning a site at 66 Maurice Avenue to allow for the construction of commercial and retail premises.
The vacant site, at the beach-end of the tiny shopping strip, was previously permitted to become a church.
Near the New South Wales border, Mallacoota is considered one of the most isolated towns in the state.
For Melbourne commuters taking the Princes Highway to Sydney, Mallacoota marks about the half-way point (some 520 kilometres away).
Agents join forces
South-east focused commercial real estate agency Nichols Crowder has merged with Kevin Nixon Real Estate - a business founded in 1976 by esteemed agent Kevin Nixon, also the father of Channel Nine weather-girl Livinia.
Nichols Crowder, whose agency sells predominantly in the bayside and Mornington Peninsula regions, has offices in Moorabin and Carrum Downs.
Kevin Nixon Real Estate, which will now be rebranded Nixon Industrial, will continue operating from its Moorabbin office. It shut a Dandenong office a couple of years ago.
Matt Nichols, managing director of Nichols Crowder, and Kevin Nixon said the merger, creating a local commercial and industrial property powerhouse, "made sense".
Nixon, 71, who has recovered from a motorcycle accident in February last year, says he has no plans to retire from the industry.
Bruno expands north
Bruno Distributors, an established Melbourne business which made headlines in 2010 when it sold its 30-year inner-city headquarters to developers for $5 million, is continuing to expand in Melbourne's north.
The group has leased 3500 sq m of space in Reservoir, committing to part of a warehouse for years owned by Chemist Warehouse.
Butera & Co directors Robert and David Butera leased the Reservoir space but declined to comment on the transaction. Rents are speculated to be about $45 per square metre.
In late 2010 it was reported the Pipeworks Market was considering relocating to the Chemist Warehouse site after its Cambellfield site sold to Ikea (and is currently being redeveloped as a store).
The Reservoir factory abuts parkland and Merri Creek and would have allowed the market to resume a Bungee Jumping service.
Bruno Distributors, which imports products such as San Pellegrino softdrinks, moved from Brunswick East to a brand new office in Sussex Street, Pascoe Vale, which is attached to a 6000 sq m industrial property the group has now outgrown.
The first of several apartment buildings are being developed on the company's former site on the corner of Lygon and Victoria streets, near the North Carlton border.
Dog's Bar sold
St Kilda institution The Dog's Bar sold on Thursday for more than $6 million after passing in at a dark, wet, windy auction for $5.4 million.
Proprietor David Carruthers listed 54 Fitzroy Street as a development opportunity, having spent eight years buying strata-titled apartments on the upper levels of the triple-storey building.
Ironically, investors wanting to once again subdivide and sell-down the apartments were expected to consider the building.
By being available as a whole, the site also attracted developers able to convert the upper levels into a hotel - something Mr Carruthers was considering.
The building includes a rooftop terrace which some developers see as airspace to extend.
Mr Carruthers has run The Dog's Bar since buying the pub from Lion Nathan in 2001, but is selling due to ill health.
Gross Waddell's Andrew Waddell and Jonathon McCormack, with Pride Real Estate's Margaret Duncan and Tony Pride, marketed the St Kilda asset. The identity of the new owner is still unknown.
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