Extension on 2017 Permit Sought as Crown One Queensbridge Development Remains in Limbo
After two years of no activity, Crown has sought an extension on the planning permit for their proposed Southbank development. Estimated at $1.75 Billion, the project’s current permit is set to expire on March 2nd of this year.
The project has been dogged by controversy since it was hastily approved by Planning Minister Richard Wynne in March 2017 – without public notice. The One Queensbridge tower at the centre of the development would become Melbourne’s tallest, to stand at a towering 323 metres. The tower was to comprise of apartments and a 388-room hotel offering.
Speculation is rife that the strong downturn in Melbourne’s residential market coupled with the large costs of construction has given Crown cold feet on the project, and developer Schiavello is also hesitant to proceed. Speaking at Crown’s yearly results announcement in August last year, chief financial officer Ken Barton admitted that financing the project had been difficult. “The struggle has been finding someone who wants to have the kind of residential risk-sharing that we are looking to accomplish … that’s where the hard work has been.”
The ‘behind-closed-doors’ project approval has raised eyebrows due to Crown’s status as a major source of political funding. In the 2017-18 financial year, Crown gave the Labor Party $35,000, and the Liberals received $30,000. Despite opposition from Melbourne City Council, Crown’s development was approved by Mr. Wynne – a development that exceeds planning rule allowances for the site by 300%. Former chair of finance for the Melbourne City Council, Stephen Mayne, labelled the approval “a corporate sweetheart deal” between Crown’s James Packer and Premier Daniel Andrews.
Schiavello is yet to comment on the status of the One Queensbridge development. One of Australia’s top 100 private companies, Schiavello is currently working on the M-City project in Melbourne’s south-east, in conjunction with Saraceno. The $1 billion mixed-use development boasts a shopping precinct, cinema, healthcare facilities and childcare alongside office space and apartments.
According to the Andrews Government, should One Queensbridge go ahead it will create 3000 direct and indirect jobs during construction, including apprentices. Once complete, the project will sustain another 1000 ongoing operational jobs. “Four thousand jobs will be created by this project in yet another sign of confidence in Victoria as the state of momentum,” said Premier Andrews when announcing the project’s green light.
Header image source: Crown Residences
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