Toyota accelerates plan for Melbourne high-rise
The Australian Financial Review
by Nick Lenaghan
19 April 2017

A street-level render of the Toyota proposal.  Melbourne city council papers

Toyota Australia has hitched its wagon to Melbourne's boom in high-rise living with plans for a massive four-tower apartment project over its dealership just outside the CBD.

The proposed development – with more than 1000 apartments earmarked for residents and student accommodation – has taken a step forward, winning endorsement from Melbourne's city council this week.

That backing will add weight to the plan which now goes to the state government for a final decision.

Toyota has appointed Sydney-based developer Lefta Corporation to handle the project which has an estimated construction cost of $208 million. Its end value as developed real estate would be considerably higher.

The proposal stretches over Toyota's dealership and car yard along Elizabeth Street just outside the old city grid and two blocks up from the bustling Queen Victoria Market precinct.

Apartments and student units
According to plans considered by council, the four towers – the tallest has 19 levels – will comprise 310 apartments, 698 student units, gym and 5200 square metres of commercial space.

Designed by architects SJB, the project will include also a new laneway – ever popular with Melbourne city users – running between Elizabeth and O'Connell streets.

The site includes the heritage-listed Melford Motors building, a three-storey property completed in 1928.

In a further win for the project, Toyota has received a heritage permit for its plan to incorporate the historic Melford Motors showroom into the broader project.

The heritage permit was granted after Toyota modified its plans in discussion with city council planners, reducing the number of apartments and height of one tower.

Large properties occupied by longstanding car dealerships around the CBD have been swallowed up by the apartment boom in recent years.

Further along Elizabeth Street, the University of Melbourne bought out the City Ford site previously by private investor Drapac.

On the other side of the market, education entrepreneurs and property developers Shesh Ghale and his wife Jamuna Gurung are pursuing a hotel and apartment project on the old Mazda site.

Toyota's ambitious plans for its Elizabeth Street site follows the path of other major corporate entities which have sought to capitalise on their property holdings.

Australia Post maximised the value of a west Melbourne site with plans for a large apartment project before selling it to a private developer.

Toyota, which declined to comment on the progress of its project on Wednesday, may well contemplate a similar strategy for the Elizabeth Street project.


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