Greek Orthodox plans for corner downsized

THE Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria has downsized ambitious plans to redevelop a prominent CBD corner - also the gateway to the city's Greek precinct.

THE Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria has downsized ambitious plans to redevelop a prominent CBD corner - also the gateway to the city's Greek precinct.

After a recent funding boost by the Baillieu government, a 15-level mixed-use building is set to replace a four-level building at 168 Lonsdale Street, part occupied by the GOCMV on the north-east corner of Russell Street.

The lower levels of the new 3881-square-metre complex will be owned by the GOCMV and fitted to include, among other things, a performance space, exhibition space and offices. The balance of the building is expected to be leased to office users giving the GOCMV a source of revenue.

Recently permitted by the Melbourne City Council, the proposed office will include a 192-square-metre rooftop terrace but no car parks.

It replaces a 13-level proposal in April 2010 and a 27-level proposal earmarked for the 288-square-metre site in May 2011.

That high-rise proposal was to have been identified by a mural taking up the upper third of the building, and etched into vertical panes of glass.

The new building, expected to be complete in early 2014, will be identified by thin rows of vertical rails.

Not far away, at the corner of Queen and La Trobe streets, Planning Minister Matthew Guy last month permitted a 48-level mixed-use building to replace the owner-occupied and historic Celtic Club headquarters.

The ministerial request came after the club withdrew a 43-level proposal that, being less than 25,000 square metres, would have been decided by the Melbourne City Council and could have carried stricter development conditions if approved at all. The club is now looking for a development partner to build the 174.5-metre tower.

McDonald's territory

DEVELOPERS are continuing to swoop on sites around the unkempt but convenient inner-city corner of Victoria Parade and Smith Street, most famous in commercial property circles for accommodating the local headquarters of fast-food giant McDonald's.

This week a residential builder paid the state government $2.03 million for a Fitzroy building until recently occupied by the Department of Health at 5-7 Smith Street.

Just two months ago boutique apartment builder Neometro paid $3.1 million for the neighbouring two sites between 9-13 Smith Street.

The Neometro sale translated to a price per square metre of land of about $4264.

The Baillieu government has done better than that, selling its block for about $5489 per square metre. The government site, when redeveloped as apartments, offers better CBD view security than Neometro's.

Both properties are opposite a large McDonald's restaurant on the north-east corner of Smith Street and Victoria Parade that incorporates head office space used also for training and administration. Being on the eastern side of Smith Street, the McDonald's-occupied property is classified as Collingwood.

Allard & Shelton's Joseph Walton and Pat Barnes represented the Department of Treasury & Finance.

Collingwood supersite

AN INVESTOR paid $5.4 million at auction this week for an underutilised Collingwood supersite expected in the medium term to accommodate a major mixed-use complex.

The adjoining factories at 466-482 Smith Street, near the corner of Alexandra Parade, are currently leased to retail and commercial tenants who pay annual rent totalling $114,200.

The new owner, a developer, is not expected to rebuild the 1464-square-metre site immediately.

Selling agent Kevin Sheehan and Nick Mavrodoglos of Kevin Sheehan Property marketed the asset, which was expected to sell for about $5 million.

A family that once ran a manufacturing business in the area sold the Collingwood asset after 37 years.

Geelong gateway site

A SERVICE station operator has bought a prominent Geelong gateway site for $3.6 million. The 2.9-hectare block at 452-458 Princes Highway in Corio is about 60 kilometres south-west of the CBD and nine kilometres north of Geelong.

Bunnings, Harvey Norman and Aldi all operate from sites in the vicinity. The Beckley Park International Go-Kart Racetrack is also nearby.

Kelemen Commercial director Rudy Kelemen said the site had 130 metres' exposure to the Princes Highway where about 40,000 vehicles pass daily. He said the sale price translated to a healthy rate of $3000 per square metre of land.

New Fitzroy plan

MONTHS after the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal supported the City of Yarra Council in rejecting plans for a six-level apartment project in a quaint and heritage-protected Fitzroy street, the land owners have lodged an application for another six-level complex.

The new 60-unit project replaces plans for a 73-unit complex earmarked to be developed on the site of a former commercial property at 37-45 Kerr Street.

The application seeks to build five levels of apartments atop ground-floor commercial space and a two-level underground car park with 80 bays.

In August, VCAT rejected the first proposal in part because of the design's scale, described as dominating. VCAT suggested a complex of between three and four levels would better suit the area, which also includes a site at 46-52 Rose Street.

A City of Yarra councillor confirmed a new application had recently been lodged and was being reviewed. A decision, and possible VCAT appeal, is expected next year.

Interestingly, flats within the new project are being marketed for sale despite a permit not being active - a move in the past proven to put off-the-plan buyers at risk.

Tree-lined Fitzroy streets such as Kerr, which are dotted with low-rise terrace homes, will increasingly face high-density development proposals as they often accommodate former commercial properties on large sites, attractive to apartment builders.

Busy in Brighton

A BUSY Brighton corner subdivided into two large blocks sold to two residential developers this week for a combined $10 million.

The first property, known as 79-81 Asling Street and 122-124 Martin Street, measures 1542 square metres while a second property, known as 116-120 Martin Street, is spread over 1505 square metres.

The sites are currently configured as car parks and low-rise buildings occupied by retail, office and medical-based users. They are expected to be replaced with two new projects that will carry an end value of more than $100 million and likely include retail and offices at lower levels and apartments, capturing bay views, above.

Near the Elsternwick suburb border, the sites are also near the Gardenvale train station and Nepean Highway.

Allard & Shelton agents Joseph Walton, Pat Barnes and Ben Stanley would not comment on the sale price, speculated to be about $5 million for each site. Instead, they said 10 buyers bid for the two properties listed for sale in October as investments with development potential.

Thanks to readers

CAPITAL Gain will return in 2013. Many thanks to readers for their tips and feedback this year.

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