Places Victoria in sale hope

Troubled developer Places Victoria will be hoping a pending development application can help stem the multimillion-dollar loss it faces on a forthcoming land sale in Footscray.

Troubled developer Places Victoria will be hoping a pending development application can help stem the multimillion-dollar loss it faces on a forthcoming land sale in Footscray.

The government-backed entity has listed the 1.3-hectare site on Hopkins Street with an asking price of at least $18 million after acquiring it for $21 million about two years ago. The price does not include $1.27 million in stamp duty.

The property has been put to market before Places Victoria's proposal to build a 795-unit, high-rise complex has been vetted by Planning Minister Matthew Guy.

A department spokeswoman said the application was under consideration and the minister was unable to comment.

The decision to sell 4 Hopkins Street comes just a few months after the property was advertised for short-term lease, with tenants sought to occupy the office, showroom and warehouse spaces on the former LeMans Toyota site.

Places Victoria had intended to develop the property once it took possession in late January, but it is believed the plan was aborted because of its precarious finances.

Places Victoria chief Peter Seamer said the group had been exploring the "urban renewal potential" of the site since signing the sales contract 2½ years ago.

"Our review of the LeMans site in Footscray has shown that it could be delivered by the private sector," he said. "Places Victoria will have completed a site master plan and subject to planning approval will present to the private sector a great development opportunity."

The master plan for the Footscray site envisions eight buildings of six to 23 storeys with 795 apartments. The development would include commercial spaces.

The property is being marketed by Nick Peden of Savills Australia and Paul Henley of Knight Frank.

"State and local governments are committed to improving the Footscray area including upgrading the Footscray railway station and carrying out investment attraction campaigns to increase awareness of business opportunities," Mr Peden said.

"With its eclectic character and emerging arts and cultural scene, it will continue to draw workers and new residents to make it one of the most vibrant places in Melbourne."

Places Victoria reported a $18.8 million loss in the 2011-12 financial year following sharp write-downs in the value of its property portfolio. Staff numbers have been cut by 63 per cent in the past six months. The group is also leaving its headquarters in the premium Goods Shed North building at Docklands in favour of cheaper accommodation.

cvedelago@theage.com.au

Twitter: @chrisvedelago