Slumlord's lodge makes way for lab

Plans are under way to transform the former site of a notorious North Melbourne halfway house into an $8.7 million state-of-the-art food testing and research centre.

Plans are under way to transform the former site of a notorious North Melbourne halfway house into an $8.7 million state-of-the-art food testing and research centre.

Arden Lodge, a residential facility that once housed "extremely predatory" parolees, was run by Helmut Kirsch, himself a violent ex-con with a reputation for being one of the city's worst slumlords.

The now vacant site at the corner of Arden and Langford streets was bought by the Overseas Merchandise Inspection Company for $3.7 million in March, according to title records.

OMIC Australia - a food chemistry and microbiology testing laboratory - recently lodged a planning application to build a $5 million facility at 302 Arden Street. The plan calls for a single-storey structure of 1154 sq m with laboratory and food testing areas, offices, dedicated electrical substation and 24 car spaces.

OMIC Australia, which is one of 29 subsidiaries and offices of a Japanese company founded in 1954, is currently located in Steel Street, North Melbourne.

Despite winning permission to build a $4.5 million centre to house ex-prisoners in VCAT in 2011, Mr Kirsch and the owners of the land, KK Corporation, chose not to proceed.

cvedelago@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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