Here comes Paragon

The Celtic Club’s development at 316-320 Queen St looks poised to proceed as “Paragon”, with developer Beulah International seeking to capitalise on an existing planning permit approved under previous planning controls.

To say this development has been a point of contention for many is an understatement. The development has had to clear a number of hurdles in not only receiving planning approval, but stretching as far back as 2013, contending with inner-club politics, which resulted in club members voting against plans to proceed with a multi-level residential tower.

Beulah International eventually purchased the site last year for $25.6 million after playing a patient waiting game, which involved a series of further member-votes on the fate of the club. The site’s permit extension granted by Planning Minister Richard Wynne is due to expire in October, meaning Beulah International will likely move to launch the 48-level apartment tower shortly.

Encompassing a 3000sqm site, much of the Celtic Club will make way for the tower, which was approved to include 256 apartments, although this number will almost certainly change as the developer rebalances the project’s apartment schedule to meet current market conditions.

The revised scheme by Fender Katsalidis Architects replaces an earlier design by Peddle Thorp Architects and sees the tower’s exterior redesigned with a stretched diagrid pattern over a golden facade reminiscent of New York’s Hearst Tower.

In other news, the race to deliver the five stations and twin 9km tunnels of the Melbourne Metro Rail Project is down to three consortia comprising Australian, Spanish, French and Italian construction giants and specialists. The three consortia are Continuum Victoria, Cross Yarra Partnership, and Moving Melbourne Together.

The three consortia’s proposals “include more than 100,000 pages of detailed plans to build the nine-kilometre Metro Tunnel and five new underground stations at Arden, Parkville, CBD North, CBD South and Domain.”  The winning bidder and contract signing is expected to be complete by the end of the year with major works kicking off in 2018.

As part of the early works package which is already underway City Square has now temporarily closed – for up to five years – to allow for construction to kick off at the southern end of the CBD.

The first order of business after securing the site will be to demolish the three existing levels of car parking for the Westin Hotel that currently sit under the square.

A deeper shaft will then be excavated, which will enable heavy construction equipment to be launched that will be used for the construction of the station platforms, mezzanine levels and underground adits connecting to Flinders St and Federation Square as well as the tunnel between both Flinders St and Melbourne Central stations.

Acoustic sheds will be erected over the station pit opening to minimise visual and audible noise during the construction period.

It is expected that City Square will be returned to the City of Melbourne as public open space by 2022 including an entrance to the station underneath.

And lastly, the State Library of Victoria is set to undergo further transformation as part of the library’s $88.1 million 2020 Vision. The Ian Potter Queen’s Hall and a number of gallery spaces are set to be reopened to the public as multi-functional spaces after many years behind closed doors.

The designs for the project by Architectus in association with Denmark’s Schmidt Hammer Lassen will reintroduce 40 per cent more space to the public, including the significant historic refurbishment and reconfiguration of the Queen’s Hall and the Russell St entrance.

The Victorian Government is providing $60.4 million worth of funding towards the project with the remaining $27.7 million to be raised through philanthropic support. Already the library has raised $21 million with $3 million from Maria and Allan Myers QC, $8 million from the John and Myriam Wylie Foundation and $10 million from the Ian Potter Foundation.

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