Jonathan Chancellor | 11 November 2012

Australia 108 has a few hurdles to overcome before it's the southern hemisphere's highest

Australia 108 has a few hurdles to overcome before it's the southern hemisphere's highest

The southern hemisphere's tallest hotel/apartment building – with its mooted mammoth 388-metre skyscraper high above Melbourne's Yarra River – is actually a development site that's up for sale.
Its a tad premature to suggest the touted 108-storey development will radically alter the city skyline.

The 2,642-square-metre site has been for sale since July through CBRE agents Mark Wizel and Josh Rutman.

The site is set on the corner of City Road and Southbank Boulevard, and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) gave approval for a 72-storey, 226-metre, 532-unit skyscraper in September 2010 after a battle with Melbourne City Council.

Designs for the huge Australia 108 are being reportedly finalised and, if approved, will feature 600 apartments, the nation's highest hotel and restaurants seemingly floating 84 stories above the city.

The 108-storey tower, which will be the 18th-tallest building in the world, is planned to rise near the 297-metre Eureka Tower, with 91 storeys.

Architects Fender Katsalidis, who also built Eureka, gained planning approval for a 228 metre apartment building on the 70 Southbank Boulevard site in 2010, despite objections from Melbourne City Council that it was "excessive in both height and bulk".

But architect Nonda Katsalidis has super-sized his plans, by adding a 288-room hotel and sky deck on top, saying the economy has strengthened and Melbourne is more confident and ready for an iconic centrepiece.

"Buildings like this change cities, they make the city more dynamic, more interesting, more exciting," he told the News Ltd papers today.

The website shows both visions for the development site.

One of Australia 108's most striking features will be a two-storey sky lobby, which is set to house two restaurants and two bars, extending nine metres out of the building, 84-storeys above Melbourne.

The hotel check-in and swimming pool will also appear to hang over the city, with sections of glass floor enabling visitors to see all the way to the ground in a much larger version of Eureka's Sky Deck.

Although the skyscraper is intended to dominate Melbourne's skyline, Katsalidis says it would form a pair with Eureka.

The site was listed with a $25 million price tag via an international public expressions of interest campaign closing in August.

In July Property Observer reported the site was listed by Katsalidis and property developer Adrian Valmorbida from the Valmorbida family, who had decided to go in different directions.

The site is the former head office of international explosives and fertilising giant Incitec Pivot and is currently in use as office accommodation.

Although in its preliminary design stage, and will be subjected to a fresh planning application process, Victorian Planning Minister Matthew Guy has already commented that such a project being proposed underlined the confidence in Melbourne.

"Australia is coming of age and our cities are growing upwards," Guy says.

"Taller buildings ... are a symbol of a growing nation, a strong economy, and they do have the ability to define a city," he told News Ltd.

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