Almost $1 billion in hotel builds to revive and enrich capital

Two multi-million-dollar hotels constructed around significant heritage buildings are set to transform Melbourne’s CBD and foreshore.

Developers Riverlee Group have been given the green light for a $450 million redevelopment of the Northbank Goods Shed beside the Yarra River between Spencer Street and Charles Grimes Bridge.

The project, named Seafarers Place, will revitalise the disused industrial waterfront site with a five-star luxury hotel, mixed-use precinct and public park which will connect the CBD and dockland areas.

The Northbank site, bought three years ago from the state government for $28.5 million, is to be transformed into a 280-room hotel, 150 luxury apartments and a 1000-seat function centre and ground floor shops.

Rejuvenation work on the historic wharf and heritage-listed crane will form part of the ambitious redevelopment, which won City of Melbourne approval in February and has now been given the go-ahead by state planners.

While an operator has yet to be announced for the hotel, the developer confirmed that it will be a new brand to the city.

Meanwhile, a 47-storey residential and hotel tower on Queensbridge Street in Melbourne has also won approval – after a three-year delay over heritage and overshadowing concerns.

Victorian planning minister Richard Wynne has approved the $420 million mixed-use development, calling it a “great development” for Melbourne’s CBD.

The initial development application was lodged in December 2015 but the design was scaled back after consultation with state and local planning officers to reduce overshadowing of Boyd Park and incorporate a large public forecourt.

Heritage considerations led to architects retaining and incorporating existing heritage facades into the design, including the former Robur Tea Warehouse and the heritage-protected Castlemaine Brewery.

The tower now comprises 733 apartments and 188 guest rooms, along with shops, offices and a pedestrian link between Queensbridge Street and City Road.

Both projects are lauded by their developers as providing links between past and present, and between geographic areas of the city.

Riverlee’s development director, David Lee, said it was “committed to rebuilding connections between people and places by delivering a master-planned precinct that is rich in history, adding to Melbourne’s vibrant culture”.

“The open spaces and public park are designed to give the waterfront back to the community and celebrate the unique character and history of the site,” he said.

Wharf and crane restoration works have started, with the construction of the new hotel due to start mid-2019.

Daniel Lao, development manager of Sheng Le Group responsible for the Queensbridge Street site, told The Urban Developer that the development would fill a “missing link” within the area, creating a connection between the CBD, Boyd Park, arts precinct and South Melbourne.

“The carefully sculpted design will help revive and enrich Southbank with an activated and pedestrian-friendly public realm,” he said.

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