AsheMorgan, an investment powerhouse, has submitted an application to erect over 900 Build-to-Rent apartments across two towers within Melbourne’s Docklands. This move further solidifies Docklands’ standing as a hotspot for the build-to-rent market.
The grandiose $700 million project, initially unveiled by The Australian Financial Review in February, is planned for the sprawling one-hectare car park site at 24 Little Docklands Drive.
This development marks the next phase in the evolution of the 10-hectare retail district. Back in 2015, AsheMorgan acquired this area for $150 million. They have since invested a staggering $500 million in the transformation of the former Harbour Town mall. The result is a vibrant mixed-use space that integrates office premises, hotel accommodations, a fresh-food marketplace, and a diverse range of dining and entertainment options.
“We’re aiming to redefine urban living,” shared Andrew Whiteside, AsheMorgan’s Victorian development director. This was his statement to the Financial Review in February, following the inauguration of the 211-room Nesuto apartment hotel.
Named “District Living,” AsheMorgan Build-to-Rent project will encompass a variety of apartment sizes, including studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom units. The complex will also boast a plethora of indoor and outdoor amenities like a wellness centre, a sky terrace, and even a dedicated dog park. The overarching goal is to cater to the housing needs of local families and professionals who seek convenience and proximity to the city centre.
Currently, a development application has been lodged with Victorian Minister for Planning Sonya Kilkenny. Pending approval, construction is earmarked to begin in the latter half of 2024. The ambitious project entails two towers, collectively hosting more than 900 apartments.
This proposal is part of a larger trend of build-to-rent endeavours underway in the Docklands area. A mixed-use venture at 208-226 Harbour Esplanade is being pursued by the Liberman family and the Tim Gurner/Qualitas BTR platform, bringing 550 rental apartments to the scene.
In a separate initiative, Lendlease has set forth plans for a 500-apartment build-to-rent tower at 907-913 Collins Street, situated within its Collins Wharf precinct. Notably, the Tarascio family’s Salta Properties is also contributing to the precinct’s early BTR initiatives. Their project is taking shape at 699 Latrobe Street, adjacent to the iconic Marvel Stadium.
Slightly afield from Docklands, in the Fisherman’s Bend urban renewal area, Samma Property Group’s 31-story BTR tower has obtained approval. This tower, boasting 402 apartments, is set to rise at 194 Lorimer Street.
In a recent report authored by seasoned planner Brian Haratsis, the executive chairman of Macroplan, Melbourne’s accelerating development of purpose-built rental housing and its emergence as Australia’s premier build-to-rent market have been highlighted. With 2,245 completed apartments and an additional 13,081 in various stages of development, Melbourne is predicted to stand alone among Australian cities with a substantial build-to-rent market by 2030. In contrast, New South Wales counts just over 3,500 units in operation or planning, and Queensland tallies 4,644.
Mat Stoddart, an AsheMorgan Build-to-Rent development director, shed light on Docklands’ suitability for a well-designed BTR complex. He pointed to the tight rental market, forecasts indicating a significant housing undersupply in the coming years, and the fact that over two-thirds of Docklands residents are already renters. Notably, more than half of them are aged between 20 and 40, with nearly 60% holding professional or managerial positions. This demographic aligns perfectly with the target audience for build-to-rent offerings.
In addition to constructing the two BTR towers, AsheMorgan has plans to establish a footbridge overpass on Footscray Road. This endeavour aims to link the towers to the North Melbourne train station, which is approximately 500 meters away.
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