Capital Gain

Student tower to look down on State Library

Student tower to look down on State Library

While planning attention this week has focused on whether seven storeys is an appropriate height limit for structures around Parliament House, an application to build a 33-level, mixed-use building has been lodged for a prominent site adjacent to the State Library.

The proposed building at the north-west corner of Swanston and La Trobe streets would be identified by a new city landmark - a multistorey electronic billboard beaming onto the busy intersection, the library forecourt and the Melbourne Central train station and shopping centre.

Almost 250 student accommodation rooms will fill 25 levels of the building; the balance will be fitted as commercial and retail space including a tavern and a restaurant. No car parks will be provided.

At 377-391 Swanston Street and including 198 La Trobe Street, the property includes a three-level office, circa 1926, known for years as RMIT University's Building 36. It is leased to a dance academy, bottle shop and Hungry Jack's restaurant on the ground floor.

On a 615-square-metre site, it sold to the current owner, a Toorak developer, in 2010 for $15 million.

A City of Melbourne spokeswoman said the council was awaiting further information from the applicant before making a decision. She said while no height control covered the block, preserving sunlight to the State Library forecourt was a priority.

The State Library opened just after Parliament House more than 150 years ago.

The proposed student accommodation complex is only a few metres from the former Melbourne Central Car Park at 250 La Trobe Street, now owned by Malaysian developers, who revealed plans last week to redevelop the site with two towers rising 78 and 50 levels.

Costly farm for sale

The cliff-top farm in Ventnor, Phillip Island, which Planning Minister Matthew Guy unsuccessfully tried to turn into a housing estate last year, has quietly hit the market as a rural opportunity with no residential redevelopment potential.

The Cadogan farm, as it is known locally, has an asking price of $1.97 million - a little less than the price when it was last on the market in 2011.

Following that campaign two years ago, the picturesque farm sold to developer Carley Nicholls who was allegedly assured by Mr Guy that residential rezoning would occur.

The rezoning happened, but was quickly reversed following a political and community backlash. Ms Nicholls could not get out of the sale contract and took Mr Guy to court. However, the day before an August hearing, the state government settled, reportedly compensating Ms Nicholls with $2 million and the farm vendor with $1 million.

Stockdale & Leggo is now marketing the 24-hectare Bingley Crescent farm.

In nearby Cowes, receivers have listed for sale two prominent Esplanade sites, including land where the historic Isle of Wight once stood and the Continental Hotel next door.

The Isle of Wight burnt down in 2010, a month after a controversial permit was granted to replace the pub with a nine-level resort. Alex Scott's Greg Price and Sutherland Farrelly's Grant Sutherland are marketing the 9197-square-metre block that overlooks Cowes jetty.

Flats for Preston

One of Preston's most prominent sites has sold to a local developer and will make way for flats soon.

The adjoining factories at 30-32 St Georges Road and 36 Oakover Road, about nine kilometres north of town, are understood to have sold for about $5.5 million. The 7612-square-metre block was offered with a permit for a seven-level tower with 175 flats, approved by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in 2010. Knight Frank's Marcus Quinn declined to comment when contacted.

Next week, an expression-of-interest campaign closes for a 4600-square-metre site next door that includes three office warehouses. Butera and Company director David Butera is expecting about $3.5 million for 32-34 Oakover Road, which also has residential redevelopment potential.

People for Footscray

Property deals formalised this month are expected to bring more people to Footscray in the medium and long term.

In a suburban lease deal, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre has committed to all 3000 square metres of a modernised office at 214-218 Nicholson Street, for years occupied by Melbourne City Mission and a public housing provider.

The resource centre will pay a starting annual rent of about $270,000 to occupy the Footscray office that it has leased for an initial 10-year term with two five-year options. It will relocate from smaller premises in Batman Street, West Melbourne.

Ray White Commercial Oakleigh's Dean Kimitsis marketed the Nicholson Street building.

On the development front, two applications were lodged this week affecting Footscray sites a few hundred metres from each other.

The biggest proposal, affecting what is now a Paint Right store and car park at 26-34 Buckley Street, near the corner of Nicholson Street, is for a 15-level residential, 177-unit apartment complex. The site is opposite the northern edge of Victoria University's Footscray campus and the train station.

At 4 Neilson Street, within the Joseph Road precinct, earmarked by the local council for intense residential development in the medium term, a 15-level apartment tower has been proposed to replace a low-rise factory, for years occupied as a LeMans Toyota Accident Repair Centre. The proposed tower would back onto train tracks between the Footscray and South Kensington depots.

The tallest structures permitted for the Joseph Road precinct, which hugs a bend of the Maribyrnong River, are 32 levels.

We'll take the lot

A Chinese development syndicate has outbid local land buyers to snap up eight adjoining sites on the Rye waterfront.

The land at 2079 Point Nepean Road was developed in the 1950s by the late racing, radio and television broadcaster Bill Collins, as a holiday retreat for the elderly.

That complex, Eldercit, was recently razed and the 3642 square metres subdivided into residential lots offered individually at auction this month, and expected to make way for stand-alone homes.

The syndicate paid $1.9 million for the lot, raising speculation the block could make way for a more profitable project such as apartments or townhouses.

Colliers International's Hamish Burgess and Jeremy Gruzewski marketed the site with Prentice Real Estate's Max Prentice.

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