A $450 million apartment and hotel project, which will also deliver vital community facilities opposite Melbourne’s Queen Victoria market, has been approved by the state government.
The city council bought the 6500-square-metre site from its owner in 2014 for $76 million then brought in busy private player PDG Corporation to develop it.
The project is a major element in the council’s broader aim to overhaul the market precinct and the market itself, putting facilities underground and transforming a sprawling car park into public space.
City hall has been at loggerheads with the state government over the scale of development on the Munro site. That stand-off is now resolved with the state government approval for two towers of 38-storeys and 10 storeys.
The tallest tower has been trimmed to 125 metres, down from the 165 metres earlier sought.
Under the agreement, PDG will first build 56 affordable housing units, a 120-place childcare facility, family and children’s services centre, a community centre, and importantly a 503-bay car park on the site.
“We have now been given the go ahead to get shovels in the ground on this exemplar development which is the best Melbourne has seen in at least a decade,” said Acting Lord Mayor Arron Wood.
“It will raise the bar for developments in Melbourne.”
After the community facilities, PDG will move on to building a 300-unit apartment tower and 80-room hotel.
Work on the mixed-use project is expected to get under way within weeks with pre-sales for the apartments to begin this year.
“We’re looking forward to getting it started,” PDG managing director Vince Giuliano told The Australian Financial Review.
The inclusion of the car park is a key component of the Munro development, enabling parking to be moved off a large ground area next to the historic market sheds, allowing it to be transformed into a lively public space.
In a contingent agreement, the state government would then allow a nearby road to be realigned, with surplus land taken over by the council to further fund its restoration of the market and its surrounds.
“We’ve carefully considered this proposal and worked hard with the applicant to ensure any development protects one of Melbourne’s most popular areas and treasured destinations,” Planning Minister Richard Wynne said.
Not all of the council’s ambitious proposal is going so smoothly. The state’s heritage authority has rejected a plan to remove temporarily and restore the market’s 140-year-old sheds while an underground service area is built.
The council is now expected to revise that proposal rather than fight to overturn the Heritage Victoria decision.