Twin towers next to Marvel Stadium approved
Dual build-to-rent towers measuring up to 100 metres have been approved by the state government for construction next to Marvel Stadium.
The 28- and 30-storey developments, wedged between the stadium’s northern concourse and La Trobe St, were set to house 676 new apartments.
All of these, according to Minister for Planning Richard Wynne, were “designed to be held for long-term rentals” and would “help create more living options” for those looking at living in central Melbourne.
“It will also boost urban renewal around Docklands, with high-quality architecture and design standards,” Mr Wynne said after he green-lighted the new towers.
Tenants will have access to lounges, a pool, gym, kitchen, games room, private cinema, pet centre, work hub and outdoor terrace.
The development will also have parking space for 421 bicycles, 136 cars and six motorcycles.
The state government’s approval for the twin towers came after City of Melbourne councillors strongly endorsed the project in June.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp had previously said it could have substantial benefits for both the city and Docklands.
“In our surveys we know that renters in Melbourne are among the most stressed cohort within our population, and this brings much-needed diversity of accommodation to our city,” she said at a June 15 Future Melbourne Committee meeting.
“Build-to-rent accommodation will help change the accommodation offered here in Melbourne to something that is more diverse, more engaging, and certainly helps create community.”
Unlike most apartment buildings where units are sold to prospective buyers, “build-to-rent” refers to a residential development in which dwellings are retained by the developer and leased out.
Proponents have said the system can mitigate issues with housing supply, affordability and the private rental sector, while being a win for prospective tenants.
Urbis director Jamie Govenlock, speaking on behalf of the scheme’s owner and operater GFM Investment Management, said earlier this year the current parcel of land at 685-691 La Trobe St was a “bomb site”.
He argued the development created “a housing option not currently provided in Docklands”.
“There is a strong commitment to start the development and ensure the asset creates value not only for the client, but also for the future and surrounding emerging community,” he said.
Mr Govenlock said the proposal would also activate a 77-metre frontage on La Trobe St.
“The proposal will develop what has been a bomb site in La Trobe St, basically for the past 20 years. It will also assist in fulfilling a long-held planning objective of linking the city with the water … [it] will create a quality pedestrian environment with the Marvel Stadium precinct, particularly with the eastern laneway. This is a proposal that will create activity well beyond game days.”
Resident lobby group We Live Here has previously expressed its concerns with the proposed build-to-rent model, suggesting the towers could become “high-rise ghettos for short-stays”. “Without proper regulation, imagine the utter chaos of two new short-stay dominated towers with interstate visitors arriving from COVID hotspots around Australia. We can suggest an apt name for the new council-sanctioned project: COVID-Central,” a We Live Here spokesperson said.
Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network chair and former councillor Jackie Watts said the approval was detrimental to enhancing Melbourne’s connection with Victoria Harbour.
“Regrettably, the struggle continues to induce all responsible authorities – local and state – to enable and enhance connections between Docklands and the CBD,” she said.
The recent ministerial and council approval of twin towers on the east of Harbour Esplanade at La Trobe St will further threaten entrenching the actual and visual segregation of Victoria Harbour and the CBD, forming a continuous ‘curtain wall’ of tall towers between the waterways and the city.
Prior to COVID-19, the AFL had a multi-million-dollar deposit on the La Trobe St site it had earmarked for green space as part of a stadium redevelopment.
But the league backed out of the deal when the pandemic struck and offloaded the site to shore up its financial position after suffering a significant hit to operations.
It is believed the AFL could still become a tenant at the new development and could utilise the “large function space” proposed for the lower levels.
The AFL has stated that any overshadowing of Marvel Stadium will not detrimentally impact the playing surface •