Treasury Square – the Gas and Fuel Buildings reborn?

In late 2019 the Victorian Government launched an expression of interest process for the ‘Treasury Square’ square site in Melbourne, located next to the railway tracks between Exhibition and Flinders Streets, and Wellington Parade South. But don’t get too excited about a brand new park over the railway tracks – the project is more like a reborn Gas and Fuel Building!

In October 2019 the Minister for Transport Infrastructure launched the Treasury Square project:

The Andrews Labor Government has today announced the start of an expression of interest process to develop vacant transport land in Melbourne’s CBD which has the potential to create jobs and attract new businesses.

The Treasury Square site is located on the southern side of Flinders Street next to the rail corridor, and spans the area between Exhibition and Flinders streets, and Wellington Parade South.

Developing the land presents an opportunity to increase office space or new hotels or apartments in the heart of the city, close to public transport.

Revenue generated from the sale will be invested into the Labor Government’s record $70 billion pipeline of major transport infrastructure across Victoria.

The expression of interest is being run by Colliers International and EY in conjunction with VicTrack and is open until Friday 8 November.

The outcome of the expression of interest will determine next steps, with any development to be subject to relevant planning controls and approvals. For more information visit treasurysquare.colliers.com.au

With the Australian Financial Review revealing in January 2020 that a number of developers had been shortlisted to produce detailed bids.

Victoria has narrowed the field to just four bidders in the race for Melbourne’s Treasury Square urban regeneration project, with developers sharpening pencils for bids that could see them pay more than $500 million for the key CBD-fringe site.

Teams led by Mirvac, Brookfield, Cbus Property and Dexus-John Holland now have until March 12 to produce detailed bids for the 13,600sq m site.

The site, on the southern side of Flinders Street, has the potential to create 130,000sq m of net lettable area for a commercial value of about $2 billion.

Enter site constraints

The Treasury Square site is quite constrained.

While strong interest in the land reflects the dearth of large commercial sites in the Melbourne CBD, the high price could limit profitability of the technically tricky project.

“They’re dreaming,” said a person close to one team that did not make the shortlist. “If they wanted that number … we’ll stand back and leave them to it.”

The site is above a rail tunnel of Melbourne’s underground loop and has an electricity substation on it.

A deck would need to be built above the site to support the three towers that would likely be built as part of any development, which would also be subject to controls to limit overshadowing Birrarung Marr public park on the banks of the Yarra River.

The deck alone could cost as much as $150 million, the person said.

With the Mernda and Hurstbridge line track pair running parallel to Flinders Street.

Hi-rail access pad on the Clifton Hill Group tracks at Richmond Junction

Tramway and railway traction power substation alongside.

Flinders Street substation: tramways is smaller building to the left, railway is the larger one to the right

Full of high voltage electrical gear.

Flinders Street substation: tramways is smaller building to the right, railway is the larger one to the top

The ‘One East Melbourne’ development curving along the footprint of the Burnley and Caulfield Loop tunnels that run beneath.

Apartment complex on Wellington Parade South curves around the footprint of the Burnley and Caulfield Loop tunnels

And then twelve more railway tracks.

X'Trapolis 257M arrives at Flinders Street with an up Burnley group service

Not to mention fourteen tracks between Exhibition Street and Federation Square.

X'Trapolis 209M leads a down service out of Flinders Street

So what will they build?

Treasury Square sounds like an exciting project – but the renders shown on the accompanying website suggest otherwise.

The development is just a tiny wedge of the land between Federation Square and Richmond station – the Mernda and Hurstbridge line track pair, and electrical substations.

With three towers proposed along Flinders Street.

Maybe a mix of hotel, office and residential.

Stacked in different ways.

Or just three office towers.

Forming a wall of glass along Flinders Street.

Swap the glass for brick, and you’ve got the Gas and Fuel Towers!

Previous developments at East Melbourne

The first land to be developed was at the corner of Wellington Parade South and Jolimont Road, on what was once the ‘Collingwood Sidings‘. They were cleared of tracks during 1987 and 1988 and then offered for sale.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jolimont_Workshops_and_yard_overhead.jpg

The first stage being the lowrise ‘Eastside’ complex of neo-Georgian apartments developed by Becton during the 1990s.

Comeng and X'Trapolis trains pass outside Richmond Junction

Followed by the high rise ‘One East Melbourne’ development next door completed in 2010.

One East Melbourne, looking east down Wellington Parade from Spring Street

Consisting of a 19-storey residential tower with 85 apartments; a 6-storey commercial building includes three levels of car parking, 5,500 square meters of office space over three levels, and water wise rooftop garden; and 22 townhouses designed by Edgard Pirotta.

Further reading

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7 Responses to “Treasury Square – the Gas and Fuel Buildings reborn?”

  1. Marcus, they were an eyesore, but I remember when the Gas & Fuel were located on the other side of Flinders Street just up past St Paul’s. Do we really need another ‘Glass’ monoleith?

  2. Rohan says:

    This is such a terrible idea ! And I’m sure almost nobody knows it’s happening. I’d like to stop it somehow but no idea how !

  3. Beren says:

    Honestly, they need to leave that area alone, it’s the only real space left for any type of rail usage. You never know what the future holds. The last thing this rail corridor needs is more development next to it. Let’s say in the future you have the north south tunnel through the city, but within 50 years, there is bound to be more metro rail tunnels. This corridor needs to be a protected space against short term stupidity such as fed square. I bet the north south tunnel could have had a much better station better positioned to Flinder St, if it hadn’t been for that big government masturbation installed over the top of the rail lines there.

  4. rohan storey says:

    I have now looked at the docs for the planning scheme amendment – applying Capital City Zone and DDO10 (which mandates not overshadowing of the river at all and not Birrarung Marr between 11.00am and 2.00pm 22 April to 22 September) AFTER they called for expressions of interest. But this does allow for much taller than theyre proposing as far as i can work out. if it was no overshadowing of barrarung marr at all, then yes only like 12 floors.

    With all those rail lines and tunnels and a substation that isnt moving, not much room for manoeuvre, but it can be done, but expensive to deck over the hurstbridge line (but prob not $150mill). I hope its all too hard !

  5. […] you believe the State Government is selling a site on Flinders Street that would result in the #GasAndFuelBuilding Mk 2 ? Having demolished one of Melbs biggest planning […]

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