Smooth sailing for CBD development

By Laurence Dragomir
July has been a relatively quiet month within the Melbourne CBD from a planning and development perspective aside from projects already under construction.
Work is set to commence on GPT’s substantial overhaul of the lobby of its Melbourne Central Tower.
Designed by COX Architecture, the $35 million upgrade would re-instate the corner of Elizabeth and Little Lonsdale streets as one of the primary points of access into the building, removing interventions introduced during upgrades to the centre over a decade ago.
The upgrade will dramatically change the Elizabeth St streetscape and how people move in and around the site, while also retaining and celebrating the ‘90s architecture, characterised by the space frame canopy.
Included as part of the works are the following key elements:
The realignment of the entry and the creation of new retail opportunities and a “third space” to refresh and reset;
Interactive media and LED walls streaming live content and multimedia artwork, as part of the welcome experience for visitors;
An amphitheatre designed for collaboration, the exchange of business ideas, or a space to enjoy a morning coffee;
A flexible working hub that is envisaged as a dynamic place to meet with connections to the amphitheatre and supplemented by business facilities; and
An expanded and consolidated premium retail offering catering to new retail operators, in addition to a high-quality lobby barista on-site at the tower.
The existing 65,000 sqm tower, designed by the late Kisho Kurokawa in association with Bates Smart, was completed in 1991, and currently accommodates major tenants including ME Bank and NBN Co, who account for approximately 40 per cent of the office space.
GPT is also seeking a pre-commitment for an office tower at 300 Lonsdale St, estimated to be worth around $100 million.
Combined, these projects would form the basis of a projected $200 million capital works program that GPT is embarking on at its retail and commercial asset.
Melbourne’s eastern end is set for further hotels with developer BPM pushing to gain approval for a project across 130-134 Little Collins St.
The Little Collins St / Exhibition St axis stands to gain a 300-room NEXT Hotel which is currently under construction, in addition to BPM’s intended tower. Entering planning late last year, the Little Collins St project is the latest for BPM which has veered away from residential developments to focus on the current strong demand for hotel space within Melbourne’s CBD.
BPM is also set to proceed with 9-11 Exploration Lane, having installed builder Maxcon to deliver the 100-metre tower. Upon its completion which is slated for late next year, the Elenberg Fraser-designed tower will stand 34 storeys and occupy a compact 168 sqm site.
During late 2016 BPM was installed by the Uniting Church as its preferred joint venture partner, with the duo then creating an “alternate development concept plan to ensure the most favourable planning outcome for the site”. The revised scheme resulted in residential apartments being replaced by a purely residential hotel development.
130-134 Little Collins St sits alongside Citadines on Bourke Melbourne and is diagonally opposite the NEXT Hotel which forms part of the 80 Collins St development wrapping Nauru House. Builder Multiplex now has the NEXT Hotel jump-form above ground with an expected completion date for the 29-storey tower slated for next year.
And finally, the Melbourne Metro Tunnel project has opened a new visitor’s centre for the Metro Tunnel Project.
Dubbed “Metro Tunnel HQ”, the centre will provide an education program developed for Victorian teachers and available to students across the state.
The new visitor centre located opposite Melbourne Town Hall will allow visitors to get up-to-date information about works in project areas, including the latest information on temporary changes to the road, tram and rail networks that will enable the construction of the project.
A dedicated learning centre is located at the HQ which also includes virtual reality facilities that will allow visitors to get an up-close look at how the tunnel boring machines will complete their work.

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