Melbourne’s First Build-to-Rent Project Opens in CBD


Melbourne’s first build-to-rent development, a 59-level tower in Southbank, has opened its doors with a third of its 400 apartments now occupied.

Home, a build-to-rent development and investment business formed in 2017, is behind the rental project at 256-260 City Road—alongside the Crown Entertainment Complex and Southbank Waterfront Precinct.

Builder Icon concluded construction on the $250-million project in April, marking the first of 20-plus institutional-grade build-to-rent projects in Melbourne’s 8000-apartment pipeline. 

Melbourne has so far claimed the lion’s share of build-to-rent apartments with developers quick to move on the wider array of opportunities in the Victorian capital.

Compared to other cities nationally, Melbourne has a higher number of larger, scalable, permit-approved sites available, especially in the inner-city areas.

Home director Christian Grahame told The Urban Developer its bullish approach towards the nascent sector had given it a head-start on its competitors with its Southbank complex providing a wealth of insights and operational learnings that would inform its expanding pipeline.

Grahame, a former head of residential at Grocon and apartments at Mirvac, will be among speakers at The Urban Developer’s upcoming Build-to-Rent vSummit.

“The Australian customer still knows relatively little about build-to-rent and there’s a great opportunity to introduce them to a better lifestyle in coming years,” Grahame said.

“Build-to-rent is still in its infancy with very few buildings open in Australia [and] we are playing our part in ‘reinventing renting’ by offering an alternative to both home ownership and traditional renting. 

▲ Homes first build-to-rent project in Southbank builds upon successful models in US and UK, where the build-to-rent model is already established.

“Our vision was to create a hotel-inspired lifestyle that is the epitome of laid-back Australian luxury and not available anywhere else.

“In the years since, we have continued our meticulous focus on apartment communities for rent [and] as the creator and operator, we are fastidious about the selection of locations, design, and services.”

The Bates Smart-designed development, which offers one, two and three-bedroom apartments, has been inspired by some of the world’s leading hotels—underpinned by community, sustainability and amenity—taking cues from high-end projects in Manhattan’s High Line and Meat Packing districts.

Unlike traditional rental accommodation, the tower is managed by Home’s onsite resident services team who handle parcel and mail collection, dry cleaning, pet grooming, furniture assembly, Tesla car share and onsite maintenance support.

The building has also been configured to maximise panoramic views of the CBD and Port Melbourne. The penthouse level is instead a communal space providing tenants with access to a private banquet room and kitchen, residents’ club, cinema and co-working spaces.

Its lower levels feature an indoor pool, gym, pilates and spin studio as well as communal terraces, barbecue areas and fire pits. Meanwhile, a street-facing cafe and wine bar—with room service options—complete the ground floor lobby area.

The building is also home to contemporary artworks and sculptures throughout common areas and furnished apartments, which have been curated by Craft Victoria, who selected locally made artworks by nine Melbourne-based artists.

▲ Home has padded its pipeline out with four further projects, including a 360-apartment project at 42 Cameron Street in Richmond. Image: SJB Architects

Grahame said extreme housing market conditions, after house prices jumped 35 per cent in the past three years, had meant a growing population of Australians were renting by choice in order to “enjoy life’s luxuries”.

“We’ve seen great interest from the local Southbank area and city fringe, along with strong engagement from interstate and international relocators who are looking to be close to the city,” he said.

“We’ve been incredibly customer focused on our design from the get-go.

“We’re now hearing a lot of anecdotal feedback from residents that in addition to well-planned apartments, finishes and practical touches, they are really comfortable utilising the communal spaces and amenities as an extension of their homes.”

Home’s pilot project has been welcoming renters since May with weekly rental prices starting from $595, with unfurnished and furnished six month to multiyear options available.

Adding to Home’s confidence is a looming shortfall in housing over the next decade as migration and population growth push demand well ahead of supply.

Home is in the process of opening its second project at 246 Church Street in Richmond, a lower-format, shop-top development broken into four distinct buildings.

It also has four further developments in its pipeline including another project in Melbourne’s CBD at Docklands as well as three in Sydney at Parramatta, St Peters, and St Leonards.

Grahame will present a case study-led presentation on Home Southbank at The Urban Developer’s coming Build-to-Rent vSummit on Thursday, August 25.

The vSummit will include a keynote presentation by Colliers International’s Robert Papaleo as well as more than 15 industry experts to discuss the latest research and perspective on the current state of the nascent build-to-rent sector and its outlook for the future. 

To register for the event, click here.


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