Anthony Patton never intended to get involved in property development.
The owner of the Kinki Gerlinki fashion stores kept getting approached by developers wanting to turn his Brunswick shop into apartments.
Despite one offering $2.5 million, he always said no. Why? “They are all evil,” he says, only half-joking.
Mr Patton bought his Sydney Road shop in 2004, not long after gangland figure Lewis Moran was gunned down in the Brunswick Club next door.
“Just after the guy was bumped off, it went quite cheaply. No one wanted it,” Mr Patton says.
Now it’s prime property.
The proposed Sydney Road apartments. Photo: Austin Maynard Architects
Instead of selling for the top price though, Mr Patton is doing something different, that will end up serving his needs better – and hopefully those of others.
His store is to become the latest Nightingale project, the third in a controversial series of projects by a group of true-believer Melbourne architects.
In return for handing his land to the group, and having his debt on the property paid off, he will get a smaller shop and a three-bedroom apartment in the proposed 20-apartment project.
“At the end of it, I get an apartment, a shop and no mortgage,” says Mr Patton, who feels his current premises is “way too big for me”.
These won’t be typical of many of the cookie cutter-style apartments being built across inner Melbourne though.
Bigger inside, they will have no underground car parking, relying instead on nearby car share vehicles.
The apartments will also come with restrictive covenants on their titles limiting profits on resale for two decades, to encourage owner-occupiers and discourage profiteering.
The green building will also have solar energy, water collection feeding its large roof garden, no air conditioning and no private laundries.
A communal laundry on the roof is designed to encourage interactions between residents.
An artist’s impression of first Nightingale project in Brunswick. Photo: Supplied
The first Nightingale project, also in Brunswick, is now rising out of the ground after it was delayed for a year by a state planning tribunal challenge.
The second, in Fairfield, is headed to the planning tribunal too, after neighbours challenged its lack of parking.
Plans for this third project have been submitted to the local Moreland Council, and architect Andrew Maynard hopes this one does not end up at the state planning tribunal too. Although the group of architects and investors (whose profits are capped at 15 per cent) are half expecting it to do so.
The second Nightingale project, proposed for Fairfield, and now before VCAT. Photo: Six Degrees Architects
The group has 194 buyers who want to purchase one of the 20 apartments. They will sell for about $450,000 for a one-bedroom home or about $660,000 for two bedrooms.
The prices are hardly bargain basement, but Mr Maynard says the model of financing and profit-capping effectively removes the developer. This makes all the difference, because the project’s design can focus on what residents want – not delivering the biggest profit.
He also says the lack of car parking, which has given the projects such a high profile, ought not be seen as one of their defining features.
“We are not anti-car. The best transport solution has to involve cars as well as all the other stuff like trains and buses and bicycles.”
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