Larry Schlesinger | 29 July 2013

Matthew Guy approves 37-storey hotel and apartment tower at Digital Harbour in Docklands

Matthew Guy approves 37-storey hotel and apartment tower at Digital Harbour in Docklands

Victorian planning minister Matthew Guy has approved plans for a 37-level hotel and residential development in the Digital Harbour precinct of Docklands.

The precinct takes in a block of land bounded by Dudley Street, Wurundjeri Way, LaTrobe Street and Harbour Esplanade, next to the NewQuay precinct of Docklands and the undeveloped E-Gate precinct.

The approved development at 238 Harbour Esplanade (pictured below) - on the corner of Dudley Street and Harbour Esplanade - will comprise 360 apartments, a 4.5 star 176 room hotel with a 200 seat restaurant, swimming pool, gym, conference centre and 255 car spaces.

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The complex has been designed by architects Moull Murray and will cost around $300 million.

Development rights for the 4.4 hectare northern precinct of Docklands were acquired by Digital Harbour (Holdings) in December 2000.

The Liberman family through its company JGL Investments is the major shareholder represented by Paul Abrahams, one of five directors representing the shareholders of Digital Harbour.

The other directors are Russell Nisbet, representing the shareholding of his family company Serene Gold, David Napier, representing the shareholding of his family company Forty First Natro: Michael Kohn representing the shareholding of his family company Mat-Tastic and Andrew Schwartz, a shareholder and one of the founders of real estate investment firm Qualitas.

Andrew Schwartz is the managing director of Digital Harbour.

A re-worked $1 billion master plan with a proposal for eight new buildings with a shift away from having a more commercial focus to a “village” feel with residential towers, shops and the now approved hotel development, was submitted in February.

An earlier master plan for the precinct approved by Matthew Guy in July 2011, indicated plans for a 34 level hotel and residential apartment tower.

Completed buildings include the Life.Lab building, at 198 Harbour Esplanade, completed in 20008, a strata titled building incorporating 60 office units, three home offices and 35 serviced apartments and three other commercial buildings.

Announcing approval of the development, the planning minister said it would add to the “high quality residential and hotel accommodation offered by Melbourne and is a huge boost for the northern end of the Docklands precinct”

“This proposal will complete the Dudley Street/Harbour Esplanade gateway of Docklands and build on the precinct’s services and public spaces in this growing neighbourhood.

“It reflects the next stage in the evolution of this waterfront precinct and reinforces its role as a place for economic investment, a tourist draw card and a great place to live.

“I have approved plans that will ensure the development meets high quality urban design standards including active street levels and an open space plaza which will link Docklands to E-Gate across Dudley Street.”

It follows yesterday’s announcement of an $18 million new park and community oval as part of stage one of a four part plans to improve community infrastructure in Docklands.

Located at the far end of Docklands Drive, close to the Bolte Beach, it will create a 3.7 kilometre running and walking track, comparable to the Royal Botanic Gardens’ ‘Tan’, which is 3.87 kilometres long.

Stage two will deliver new netball courts and barbeque facilities, stage three will see the private sector developing waterfront land parcels and stage four are plans to build a light weight, cycling and walking bridge across Victoria Harbour.

“The Coalition Government is serious about putting the community heart into Docklands, and nothing will better achieve this than the development  of open public spaces,” said Victorian premier Denis Napthine.

“The new Western Park is budgeted, planned and paid for and will commence construction within the next nine months. It will bring the western end of the Docklands precinct to life and turn unused, windswept space in to a  fantastic new sporting and community hub,” says Napthine.

Western Park will feature a football oval overlaid with two soccer pitches, a community pavilion for spectators, children’s playground and  new exercise circuit.

When finished, Docklands is expected to have attracted in excess of $17.5 billion of private investment and be home to an estimated 20,000 people with 60,000 resident workers.