One of Southbank’s most historic and highest profile buildings could be partiallyrazed and replaced with a 39-storey black glass hotel.
The Robur Tea House building at 28-34 Clarendon Street, on the south-west corner of Normanby Road, was built about 1887, and for many years was the tallest building outside the CBD.
The heritage listed Tea House on Clarendon Street.
Described by Heritage Victoria as “one of the finest and most prominent examples of a 19th century Melbourne warehouse” – the intricate red-brick, six-level structure is now dwarfed by skyscrapers.
Surrounding the site to the north and west is the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (this complex’s main entrance is next door to 28 Clarendon Street).
The Crown Casino complex – and one of its hotels – are across the road to the east of the building.
As part of the application, an extension added to the southern edge of the original warehouse will be replaced with the tower containing 312 hotel rooms across the lower 23 floors.
The upper levels will contain 38 standard apartments – eight configured with more than four bedrooms.
One ground-floor retail space will be created on the enormous 2948 square metre site. The proposed 35,035 square metre tower, by RJ International (Australia), also includes a restaurant, gym, pool, conference and function centre. A total of 105 car parking bays are requested.
The Tea House, which according to Heritage Victoria, was built for stationer occupants, was developed on a “swampy site” it was originally feared could not accommodate the proposed structure. It incorporated many then sophisticated building initiatives, including 450 ironbark piles and concrete rafts.
The Tea House last sold in 2008 for $15 million as a passive investment, with development potential considered limited, the building being one of most famous remnants of Southbank’s industrial past.
Planning Minister Richard Wynne will decide on the application. His office, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, has requested more information about the proposal, lodged in February.
Hotels, like student accommodation developments, can deliver enormous profits for developers – as rooms are configured mostly as studios (with one room), while car parking can be minimal.
The Tea House proposal could be the second hotel permitted by Mr Wynne in the immediate area this year.
In February, he approved a controversial 90-level, 323-metre building in Queensbridge Street, a $1.7 billion joint venture between Crown Resorts and local developer Schiavello Group.
Nearby, at 56-62 Clarendon Street – a 1212 square metre site for years occupied as car workshop, Triple S, is the subject of a 48-level proposal containing 128 serviced apartments, more than 230 standard flats and 80 car park bays.