By Stephanie Zhang
Cbus Property is planning to demolish the former Tower Melbourne project site and open up a temporary 500sqm public open space while a fresh application is prepared and considered.
The property on the corner of Queen and Bourke streets is currently a 12-storey building and has been unoccupied and covered with black shade cloth and scaffolding for the past four years.
The state of the building has attracted public criticism and Cbus’s announcement has been welcomed.
The demolition and public space project is estimated to cost $4 million.
Cbus Property bought out three connecting properties of close to 3000sqm in March in the heart of the CBD after the end of a lengthy property dispute between two Singaporean owners.
The deal involved two properties owned by Colonial Range and one property owned by CEL Australia, which, together, were sold to Cbus Property for around $170 million in March this year.
This follows four years of legal wrangling between the two developers that ultimately led CEL Australia to abandon its $350 million Tower Melbourne project.
The dispute started after Colonial Range sold its 150 Queen St property and after acquiring the property, CEL Australia began its project for a 71-storey tower with 579 apartments. In September 2012, CEL Australia submitted an application for a planning permit but began selling apartments before approval.
Soon after, the project was stalled over access to property, concerns about damage to the adjoining buildings, as well as a complaint about allowing cars down Penfold Place, a pedestrian laneway also partially owned by Colonial Range.
The legal battle featured two Supreme Court appearances, an appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, several Building Appeal Board sittings and a formal complaint to Victoria’s ombudsman.
In November of last year, CEL Australia announced the Tower Melbourne project was “no longer viable for CEL Australia to develop”.
CEL Australia has had to cancel 556 outstanding purchaser contracts and refund up to $50 million of the buyers’ 10 per cent deposits.
Finally burying their dispute, CEL Australia and Colonial Range joined hands to put their properties on the market.
Cbus Property’s planning permit application is currently still open and may submit another in the near future for the landscaping of the public space.