Council gives green light for $62 million student tower

Brendan Rees

A proposal to build a $62m student tower at the site of the last petrol station in the CBD has won the backing of the City of Melbourne.   

Developers were recently given the green light to construct a 24-storey building plus a basement at 23-29 Victoria St in the city’s north precinct and close to Carlton Gardens and Lygon St.

The application from Tract Consultants, which acted on behalf of Scape Australia, a major student accommodation provider, proposes to feature a cinema and deck within the tower along with a café, gym, convenience store, lobby, and 533 single bed/studio apartments.  

The site, which also fronts Mackenzie St, is currently home to a 7-Eleven petrol station that will be demolished to make way for the building near RMIT and Melbourne University.

Designed by Woods Bagot architects, the plans promise to “provide high quality student accommodation and retail” offerings as well as feature a large communal dining room with a fully catered and staffed kitchen, serving meals all day.

“This is supplemented by communal kitchenettes provided throughout the tower for student use to allow for individual cooking and hosting of resident dinner parties,” the submission said.

Under the plans, students would be housed across 19 floors and have access to a roof terrace and outdoor kitchen/barbecue area while amenity facilities would include social spaces, quiet study areas, shared laundry spaces, and “high-tech IT throughout”.   

It would also have “village” spaces” accommodating up to 75 people – with direct access to their own interconnected three-level communal space, and each with a north-facing wintergarden.

“The rooftop terraces will provide a multi-functional outdoor space for dining, events and functions for residents and their guests, taking advantage of surrounding views,” the application said.

“Landscape features will provide a peaceful green setting for residents” and “outdoor spaces will facilitate a range of activities from communal functions and events to quiet spaces for relaxation.”

Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece said the tower would “play a key role” in attracting domestic and international students once the city reopened from lockdowns.

“It’s encouraging to see that developers are keen to continue investing in the future of our city,” he said.

“This site is the last of Melbourne’s CBD petrol stations, making this an historic redevelopment.”

“Having high-quality student accommodation will play a key role in attracting students from across Australia and overseas as we look to reopen Melbourne and plan for post-COVID life.”

The submission does not include on-site car parking, however, the basement would accommodate 85 bicycles.

Scape Australia has joined a growing chorus of calls to boost existing COVID-19 quarantine facilities and return more than 135,000 international students to the country •

Caption: An artist’s impression of the student tower in the city’s north precinct.

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