A triple-tower development is set to reactivate one of Melbourne’s most important gateway sites and contribute to the creation of a new precinct within the CBD. The 4,500 square metre site on Spencer Street has laid dormant for several years after the former Congress Centre/Convention Centre behind Crowne Plaza was demolished. It is a key gateway to the CBD and boasts iconic, east-facing views down the Yarra River. New plans by developer Century Group Aus will see three terraced towers of up to 33 levels designed by Fender Katsalidis revitalise the area with an activated precinct for residents and visitors.
Across the three towers, the precinct will feature 500 luxury apartments, 167 five star hotel rooms, 2,100 square metres of retail and a vibrant pedestrian precinct and plaza on Siddeley Street that will contribute to Melbourne’s public art reputation.
“Flinders Bank will contribute enormously to the betterment of this part of the city, where a new DNA is emerging and lots of new life is being created,” said Karl Fender, founding partner of Fender Katsalidis (FK).
“This is the front door to the city and what is being created here is a whole new precinct that has people at its heart. Holistically, this strengthens the connectivity of Docklands to the CBD and increases the stature of our city.”
FK is leading the regeneration of the southwest corner of the city with the adjacent Melbourne Quarter project and Riverlee’s Northbank precinct. When looked at collectively, the three projects will contribute to an expansion of the CBD core and link the city to the Docklands, Fishermans Bend and the ever-growing western suburbs. “Flinders Bank in particular will give something back to Melbourne for the people who live and play here,” Mr Fender added. The development includes a new laneway linking Flinders and Siddeley Streets as part of the activation the site and provide connections from the river to the CBD.
A public plaza will also feature, leading into a retail podium of 3 levels that links the eastern and western towers. This retail precinct is envisaged to contain a combination of stores as well as landmark dining, with tenancies on Spencer Street featuring expansive views of the Yarra River and CBD including the Eureka Tower and Arts Centre. Already a rooftop bar has been earmarked for the podium of precinct’s southern tower, where the hotel will be located - taking advantage of the amazing views. The vision for the precinct will be delivered by Century Group Aus, which was formed out of a partnership between two of China’s most transformative development companies China Century Group (CCG) and Exhibition and Travel Group (ETG).
CCG has developed over one million square metres of land, while ETG has developed the world’s largest structure, the 1.7 million square metre New Century Global Centre in Chengdu. Headed up by CEO Connie Wu in Melbourne, Century Group Aus intends to tap into its relationships with many of the world’s most luxurious hotel brands to bring landmark accommodation down under.
It is currently in the final stages of negotiation with a shortlist of hotel operators for the rights to the Flinders Bank hotel component. It aims to launch the first stage of the project – the residential eastern tower boasting remarkable river views – in the coming months.
“We are known internationally for delivering at the highest levels of quality and creating developments that contribute to the fabric of a city and give back to its people,” Ms Wu said. “This is a strategically important site for Melbourne, and we feel a great responsibility to create a precinct that locals and visitors will engage with.
“That Fender Katsalidis is overseeing the broader area holistically, means Melbourne will benefit from a fully integrated approach that redefines this key part of the city and reimagines it as a vibrant area in which to work, live, play and stay.”
Approved by Planning Minister Richard Wynne in 2016, Flinders Bank’s design was revised by Century Group Aus when it purchased the site in late 2016, with the yield reduced to cater for current market conditions that are seeing a demand for larger apartments located among strong amenity. The design is inspired by the flow of the nearby Yarra River, and the architecture responds to the site, protecting the riverside from overshadowing through its stepped-back approach.
The Spencer Street façade features an active skin which will add to the sense of vibrancy and activity whilst taking advantage of the existing river views. Construction of Flinders Bank is expected to commence in Q1 2019, with the project to be released in three stages and completed in approximately by mid-2021.
Fender Katsalidis has evolved from a Melbourne-centric architectural practice to a highly awarded, multi-disciplinary international design firm whose work now influences built environment thinking across the globe.