Home builder Burbank Group has applied to knock down an 1856 Victorian building in Melbourne and replace it with a 57-storey apartment tower.
The five-storey brick building at 100 Franklin Street called Burbank House is the headquarters of the family-owned diversified property services group, best known for building suburban homes in Victoria, NSW and the ACT.
Despite its age and style, Burbank House in Franklin Street is only covered by a minimal heritage protection. Photo: Penny Stephens
The Burbank Group owns the building and has submitted plans for at 177-metre tower with 270 apartments with a development value around $60 million.
Despite its age and style, the building is only covered by a minimal heritage protection – as an “inventory site” of potential archaeological significance – and is on a street where multiple tall towers have been constructed catering primarily for the city’s large student population.
The application to part-demolish the historic building and replace it with another tower comes amid mounting concerns over the loss of the city’s heritage fabric.
Nearby, British-based student housing player Scape Student Living has acquired a site that already has plans approved for a 62-storey apartment tower.
Scape is expected to modify the existing plans for 97 Franklin Street, overlooking the sports area within RMIT University, to accommodate 600 to 800 student studios in a $300 million-plus development.
Melbourne Council is considering changes to its heritage ratings, moving away from A to D grades to a system that instead spells out a building’s significance.
The council maintains the shift would give landlords and developers more certainty about what they can do with their properties.
The notorious demolition of the Corkman Irish Pub in Carlton last year and the potential loss of the Palace nightclub in Bourke Street along with the Great Western Hotel in King Street has sparked a renewed focus on heritage issues.
Melbourne councillor Rohan Leppert said he was unable to comment on the application because it was being considered by the council.
But Cr Leppert said central Melbourne was “under intense development pressure and our heritage controls need to be reviewed and brought up to date”.
Family-run Burbank is controlled by Jarrod Sanfilippo, the son of company founder Eddie Sanfilippo.
The group boasts 900 employees and has multiple display homes on development projects in Melbourne’s outer suburbs and in NSW, Queensland, the ACT and South Australia.
Burbank did not return calls or emails for comment.
The plans for the building include ground-floor retail areas and commercial spaces.
Other tenants in Burbank House include Abacus, ESRI Australia, Kinnov, National Pacific Properties and OGC Engineering.
Burbank has made at least two other attempts to develop the site, lodging plans that have since lapsed for a multi-storey buildings in 1986 and 2015.