Just two weeks after Minister for Planning Matthew Guy fast-tracked five major new residential skyscrapers, a $350 million mega-tower has been announced for Melbourne.

250 La Trobe

An artists’ impression of the Elenberg Fraser designed $350 million mega-tower proposed for 250 La Trobe Street by Malaysian developer UEM Sunrise.

The ambitious project is proposed for 224-252 La Trobe Street, directly opposite Melbourne Central shopping centre with The Age reporting the building will rise 285.5 metres high, span 82 stories and house 1343 apartments.

If approved, the project’s height will see it sit just under Eureka Tower at 297 meters but more than double it’s apartment capacity of 556 apartments. The mega-tower will also be the third largest in the world by floor area upon completion.

Malaysian company UEM Sunrise who have a strong track record in high-rise mixed use and residential projects are the developers of the project and acquired the 3,197 square meters of land the mega-tower will rise on last October.

Late Dato Wan Abdulla Wan Ibrahim

The Late Dato Wan Abdulla Wan Ibrahim

In a statement last year, the late Dato’ Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim UEM’s former director/chief executive officer (he passed away in late February following a short illness) announced the purchase as part of the company’s strategic regional expansion plan with Australia identified as a key market.

At the same time, UEM purchased another piece of Melbourne land at 9-23 Mackenzie Street spanning 2,030 meters.

“Currently, both sites have existing commercial tenancies and will be redeveloped as premium residential developments with retail component; infused with arts and culture to achieve vibrant and edgy mixed-use community within the developments, which will be complementary to the specific context of the sites and the larger Melbourne setting.” UEM Sunrise revealed in a statement.

Melbourne’s Skyscraper Surge

“Both projects will feature strong assimilation of the rich culture of Malaysia and Melbourne, the progressiveness of the cities and their common hopes for the future,” UEM added.

The developers also shortlisted three Australian based-architectural firms (COX Architecture, Fender Katsalidis Architects and Elenberg Fraser) for both projects through submissions via an invitation-only design competition.

The design brief from UEM required the architects to design a solution that ‘stands for something’ – unique, inspiring, elegant and highly efficient to live up to the global standards of design and urban living.

Elenberg Fraser have reportedly been chosen for the La Trobe Street mega-tower that will aesthetically see a soaring, fluted glass exterior according to The Age.

Planning Minister, Matthew Guy

“We envision both developments to be a testament of our commitment and ability to deliver quality living spaces and vibrant retail offerings that resonates with the rich Melbourne culture, as well as its status as the world’s most livable city,” Mr Wan Ibrahim said late last year.

“The projects must additionally display distinctive attributes representative of their parentage – they will have the Malaysian touch, infused in a subtle and elegant manner”, he continued.

The mega-tower is expected to reignite the height debate and abundance of skyscraper activity across Melbourne with Melbourne City councillor Ken Ong speaking to The Age:

”I’m surprised about the scope and size of the building. Someone’s trying really hard to break a record somewhere. It’s very tall and in a high part of the city,” he added.

UEM Sunrise's Five Tower Vancouver Project

UEM Sunrise’s Five Tower Vancouver Project

“The tower just scrapes under the city’s maximum height limits – by one metre – set by Essendon Airport’s PANS-OPS flight path restrictions.”

In contrast, Mr Guy sees the tall building approvals in Melbourne in recent months an acknowledgement for demand for lofty living, housing affordability and offering economic support in the city centre.

Following Guy’s announcement of five tower approvals in Melbourne recently he said: “More than 2,000 new apartments, $557 million in new construction work and up to 4,000 new construction jobs will all result from this announcement.

“We are aggressively promoting central city growth. Victoria accommodates 25% of Australia’s population but we are punching above our weight by accounting for more than 27 per cent of national dwelling approvals over the last year,” Mr Guy added.

Queensbridge Tower Approved

Queensbridge Tower Approved: 276 Metres

In terms of neighbouring skyscraper activity another Asian developer, Chip Eng Seng, hopes to build a 249 metre residential building housing 1041 units on the former Carlton & United Breweries site according to the Council on Tall Buildings of Urban Habitat (CTBUH).

Additionally, Schiavello Group’s Queensbridge Tower set to house 592 apartments and set to begin construction this year while a 300 metre residential/hotel tower at 250 Spencer Street that will have 750 apartments still awaiting approval.

A report drawn yesterday from the CTBUH reveals a total of 32 buildings in Melbourne currently under construction (28 of which have a full or mixed-use residential component) with a further 48 tall building projects proposed as Melbourne’s skyscraper surge continues.