Gurner eyes 15 sites, proposes $40m residences

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PROLIFIC developer Tim Gurner will develop a $40 million luxury apartment and club project on a former bluestone church and Sunday school hall building in Melbourne’s inner south, and has flagged up to 15 further site acquisitions.

The Prahran site at 145-151 High Street will be home to Gurner’s second private residences and club concept, Club Maison, after being picked up in an off-market deal. The project is a joint venture partnership with the existing land owner.

Plans have been submitted to Stonnington Council for approval to deliver 45 residences above the retained heritage building, along with a level of club commercial space behind the façade and a ground floor restaurant and bar.

The former Gothic Revival church and Sunday school hall building were constructed in 1891 and later altered in 1936 to include shop fronts which are still in use today. Long-term design partner Warren and Mahoney has been appointed to design the project while restoring the 130-year-old heritage Gothic building to its former glory.

“The heritage significance of the sites is what really excited us about the opportunity to be able to create something that embraces its past and reinvigorates it for the future,” Gurner said.

The proposed High Street design will also feature a private rooftop club with city views, a clear-edged infinity pool, outdoor kitchen and dining spaces, and a spacious sun deck designed by landscape architect John Patrick.

Gurner’s first Club Maison project will be in nearby St Kilda on the former site of nightclub Cushion Lounge on Fitzroy Street which Gurner bought last summer. It is the same suburb in which Gurner is constructing the $550 million ultra-luxe Saint Moritz project on what used to be a Novotel hotel site, and which has been linked to high profile celebrity names and record-breaking penthouse apartment sales figures.

Gurner general manager of boutique, Brooke Formosa said, “building our private club, hotel and boutique accommodation portfolio will be a major focus for us into 2021 and beyond, to complement our luxury residential pipeline as we expand into new asset classes, particularly where we can retain ownership and management long-term”.

“Being so close to Prahran’s vibrant Chapel Street precinct and amenity like Fawkner Park, St Kilda Road and the CBD, this site is the ideal location for both a residential component and our new Club Maison accommodation concept.”

The company obtained approval from the Victorian government for a $1 billion triple-tower project in Fishermans Bend with residential and office space last year.

In May of this year, Gurner added a 1.3 hectare site in Melbourne’s eastern city fringe suburb of Richmond to a fast-growing portfolio. Currently the site of Harry the Hirer’s warehouse, the industrial block will make way for an $800 million mixed use project.

That followed Gurner striking a deal with Qualitas and site owner Newmark Capital for a $1.4 billion redevelopment of the Jam Factory retail and cinema complex in the close-by suburb of South Yarra, and making his entrance into the Gold Coast market with a $600 million project overlooking Budds Beach.

“I’m cautiously optimistic on the market this year and think both the residential and hotel markets will present significant opportunities in the coming years so we are aiming to acquire another 10-15 sites across our portfolio in the next one to two years,” Gurner said.

“The short term effects of the pandemic are hard to predict, however I am extremely confident in the future of Melbourne and Australia as the world comes out of this hiatus and people seek a safe, beautiful and free life and Australia offers this more than anywhere else in the world.

“We know there is a major boom coming and we want to ensure we are ready for it.”

Appointed to the Prahran project, Warren and Mahoney principal architect, Nick Deans said “the gothic features of the existing building – nestled alongside a church of the same era – mark a historic moment in time and provide an authentic tie back to the beginnings of this High Street.

“The striking geometry of the gothic design has strongly informed our design for the residences, which take on a more contemporary feel and boast all the luxuries and amenities today’s discerning professional aspires to.

“Scalloped balconies and arched windows in the sky respond as a contemporary interpretation of the gothic façade below. Paired with steel-framed windows and brass inlay detailing, the design creates an elegant silhouette in the skyline, whilst still allowing St Matthews to be the hero on the streetscape,” he said.

Gurner capped off 2020 with the acquisition of a beachfront site in Port Douglas and submitted plans for a $60 million hotel and residences, and securing funding for a $120 million hotel, serviced apartment, residential and retail development in Melbourne’s inner suburb of Collingwood.

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