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Striking a Balance Between Luxury and Affordability


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The North Bank of the Yarra is set for a make-over, as an apartment and hotel complex, dubbed Flinders Bank, has been  approved by the Victorian Government. Not only will it feature a luxury hotel and state of the art apartments, but developer Century Group Aus will rent out 20 apartments at a subsidised rate in perpetuity.

The enormous three-tower, $800 million Flinders Bank project, designed by architect Fender Katsalidis, will sit on the North bank of the Yarra River, at 7-23 Spencer Street, Docklands on the site of the demolished convention centre. Developer Century Group Aus hopes the new complex will revitalise the western district of the CBD.

It will include 700 apartments and Australia’s first St Regis luxury hotel with 168 rooms, as well as a public plaza and extensive landscaping. Marriott-owned St Regis is famed for its butler service and for modernising the famed Bloody Mary cocktail.  

The Flinders Bank project will also deliver a new laneway linking Flinders and Siddeley Streets as well as a public plaza, retail precinct, and exceptional residential amenity akin to a five-star resort.

“This is an important milestone for property development and affordability in Melbourne."

Jobsite spoke with Century Group Aus’ Executive Director Connie Wu about the subsidised housing, Melbourne’s first for a major developer, the development and what it means for Melbourne.

“This is an important milestone for property development and affordability in Melbourne,” she said. “We are immensely proud to be able to offer affordable housing for the city’s key workers at Flinders Bank for the life of the project. The provision of high quality, centrally located housing for those who play essential roles in our society, such as teachers, nurses, and emergency service personnel, is essential.”

Wu continued: “All of the great cities in the world recognise that housing for key workers is a fundamental infrastructure requirement in creating sustainable, functioning places to live and work. It is great that the Victorian Government shares our vision and is looking to partner with developers to implement and facilitate the provision of affordable housing within Victoria. 

“With this in mind, we are the first developer in Melbourne to provide key worker housing, through the 20 units that will be allocated at Flinders Bank.”

Mixed used developments are more prevalent in Melbourne and other cities, and Wu explains the rationale is purchaser demand for luxury amenities: “Mixed-use developments that incorporate hotel rooms and residential departments are on the increase around Melbourne at the moment, particularly in the CBD and Docklands.

“This follows an international trend that has risen through a number of factors—the economics behind property development as well as the purchaser demand for centrally located luxury apartments offering five-star hotel-style amenity,” she said

Mixed-use developments that incorporate hotel rooms and residential departments are on the increase around Melbourne at the moment, particularly in the CBD and Docklands.

The St Regis Hotel will offer residents membership access to some of its facilities.  

The three-towered development could easily eclipse the Yarra River and negatively dominate the Melbourne Landscape. However, Ms Wu explained how the developer and architect have worked together to ensure it will have a positive effect on the landscape: 

“Flinders Bank has a unique terraced design that aims to reduce overshadowing on Melbourne’s iconic Yarra River through its stepped approach,” she said.

“This will have fantastic benefits for residents as it has allowed the design of terraced apartments with massive outdoor areas that take in some of the most spectacular river, city and Bay views in Melbourne.”

The street appeal of the buildings has also been carefully considered. “The Spencer Street Facade of Flinders Bank has a waterfall effect achieved by careful positioning of a cascading glass facade,” Ms Wu explained. “This aims to soften the building’s presence on this busy street and provide an interesting interface.”

“The North Tower (north facade) has true winter gardens with sections of louvred facade. This is rarely done properly in Melbourne and provides a highly flexible living, where acoustic wind and heat conditions can be effectively turned on or off to suit the occupant,” continued Wu. 

Construction is expected to commence in 2019 ahead of an anticipated completion date of mid-2021.

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