Grand Design for Collins Street

1st May 2014

“The design of the building has really taken into account the significance of the location and makes the most of the prominent corner site.”

Ben Coughlan, Lend Lease

Nick Lenaghan of the Financial Review talks 888 Collins Street, Victoria Harbour's newest residential tower.

It is an unforgettable piece of real estate. At the historic meeting point of Collins and Bourke streets, Lend Lease is developing its most ambitious residential tower yet in Melbourne’s ­Docklands.

The $350 million project proposed has an auspicious street address: 888 Collins Street. Memorable in anyone’s language, it is especially lucky in ­Chinese culture.

Almost 180 years after Bourke and Collins streets were first laid parallel on the Hoddle Grid, the two major thoroughfares traversing Melbourne’s CBD finally intersect in Victoria Harbour, Lend Lease’s patch of Docklands.

Market appetite for inner city apartments has prompted Lend Lease to expedite plans for the new corner site. A 40-storey building is proposed, with views over Victoria Harbour on one flank and the Yarra River on the other.

As the tallest tower in the Victoria Harbour precinct, it is hoped 888 Collins Street will become a Docklands landmark and a substantial “book end” for Bourke and Collins streets.

“The design of the building has really taken into account the significance of the location and makes the most of the prominent corner site,” state manager of apartments for Victoria, Ben Coughlan, said.

The project comprises a 15-storey triangular building, holding the corner in front of the taller 40-storey tower. There is nearly 36,000 square metres of residential space, with 587 one, two and three bedroom apartments, along with a small component of ground-level retail. Prices will range from $398,000 through to $1.2 million.

If the project is approved, Lend Lease hopes to begin construction in November this year, with completion in February 2017.

“We’re seeing strong demand in the inner city residential market at the moment and have almost sold out of apartments in Victoria Harbour – which is why we’re bringing 888 Collins Street to market sooner than planned,” Mr Coughlan said.

Lend Lease’s most recent tower in Victoria Harbour, Concavo, will be built by next year and has only 20 apartments left to sell.

Melbourne’s inner-city population is booming. On the latest figures, Melbourne was the fastest-growing inner city area in Australia, increasing by 23 per cent to 29,300 people in 2012-13.

Development is keeping pace. High-rise apartment approvals in Victoria have jumped this year.

Lend Lease took on the Victoria Harbour precinct in 2001, delivering almost 1000 apartments since.

Apartment development is a large component of Lend Lease’s global workbook, which includes $17.4 billion worth of urban regeneration projects. The pipeline of prospective apartments is now at 9300.

Lend Lease faces some well-capitalised competitors in the Melbourne CBD market.

Major Asian developers have taken big positions in the CBD. Among them are Malaysian giant UEM Sunrise, Singapore-listed Chip Eng Seng and ­Chinese developer Sino-Ocean Land.

Mr Coughlan is confident 888 Collins Street will meet the test. The distinctive tower will rise next to an emerging Docklands civic centre, with a new library and park, along with tram and road infrastructure.

“Our apartments are generally more liveable than many on the market and all have usable balconies, plus there’s communal rooftop garden areas and barbecues,” he said. “There’s definitely something for everyone – from a one-bedroom apartment to luxury penthouse apartments with views across the new Dock Square park and to the water.”

Source: Nick Lenaghan, Financial Review

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