$350m Tower Melbourne Besieged by Litigation Officially Cancelled

Melbourne’s troubled $350 million Tower Melbourne skyscraper at 150 Queen Street has officially been scrapped by its Singaporean developer with more than 550 buyers having their sale contracts cancelled.

Tower Melbourne was meant to consist of 581 units over 71-storeys but the developer Chip Eng Seng, through its local arm CEL Australia, has opted to cancel the project following a long running dispute with the owner of an adjoining property at 140 Queen Street.

Chip Eng Seng will refund buyers’ ten per cent deposits and interest accrued for the 556 sales contracts it had. The developer had sold most units in the project before gaining planning approval in 2012. Many of the buyers were overseas investors.

[Related reading: Planning War Disrupts Tower Melbourne Progress]

The group is understood to be considering its options for the site and could decide to sell the property. The 220-metre tower had been designed by Elenberg Fraser.

The company said in a statement: “The protracted and complex nature of the legal proceedings have forced the cessation of any works on site since September 2013, and despite ongoing efforts to resolve these disputes, CEL Australia is still unable to proceed with any further demolition works on the existing building.

“Consequently, the building of Tower Melbourne has been significantly delayed and the project is unable to be delivered within the date of registration stipulated in the contracts of sale.”

The neighbouring property owned by Colonial Range, also controlled by a Singaporean family, had maintained that Tower Melbourne would interfere with its own development and specifically through vehicle use of a private easement through Penfold Place.

Colonial Range had alleged that Tower Melbourne was approved by the previous Napthine government on the basis of “misstatements” or “concealments of fact”.

A series of legal proceedings had seen demolition come to a standstill in 2013 and the site to become known as one of Melbourne’s most litigious development projects.

CEL Australia’s current projects, Williamsons Estate Townhouses and Willow Apartments in Doncaster, are well under construction with settlements to occur in late 2017/early 2018.

Chip Eng Seng had previously doubled its money on a prominent vacant development site in inner-city Melbourne, on-selling the site with planning permit approval for 1,035 apartments.

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