Defence site in the firing line

PRIME Defence land in Hawthorn and Laverton could boost federal government coffers by $90 million if sold, industry insiders say.

PRIME Defence land in Hawthorn and Laverton could boost federal government coffers by $90 million if sold, industry insiders say.

A leaked draft of the government's 2013 Defence white paper, reported by Fairfax Media last week, outlines the possible closure of dozens of Australian military bases.

Thought to be in the firing line are the RAAF Williams base in Laverton and Royal Victorian Regiment depot in Burwood Road, Hawthorn.

Both sites are prime development opportunities, agents and developers say.

The 4200-square-metre Hawthorn depot is on the corner of Drill Street and Burwood Road, a strip that is a hot spot for multistorey apartments catering for students at nearby Swinburne University, CBRE agent Mark Wizel said.

The site, which contains a large tree and barrack buildings, would fetch about $14.7 million depending on heritage, planning and other restrictions, said Mario Nobrega from commercial agents Gorman Kelly. "Burwood Road is moving away from its industrial past and its old warehouses are either being torn down or converted to bulky goods showrooms," he said.

Across the road, a $140 million project with 250 apartments and ground level retail space is under construction.

Another large site nearby is expected to come on the market soon.

Across town in Laverton, the RAAF Williams base is next door to the newly-minted suburb of Williams Landing, itself constructed on the base's former airfield and runways.

A dedicated railway station and Princes Freeway interchange are under construction to connect the area's expected 7000 residents to the city.

The remaining 150 hectares at the base could net the government up to $75 million if sold and might attract developers such as Perth-based firm Cedar Woods.

"It would be logical acquisition for us given our ownership and development of the adjacent Williams Landing development," state manager Nathan Blackburne said.

But defence sites often contain contaminants that require cleaning up which can significantly devalue the land.

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