APH Holding eyeing hawker-style foodie hub, collaboration balconies after $70m+ buying spree

February 7th, 2022

Collaboration balconies and hawker-style food vendors along newly created laneways are part of a developer’s plan to revitalise the northern side of Melbourne’s CBD.

APH Holding, who spent more than $70m buying up CBD addresses last year, is planning to transform the 2200sq m of real estate into a conference destination for medical innovation as well as angling to install a five-star hotel a block from the Queen Victoria Market.

Last year, the firm bought 441-451 Elizabeth St and 139-141 Franklin St before using the sales to convince the owners of a further property at 147 Franklin St to sell for a combined total above $70m.

The sprawling size of the properties means the firm believes it will be able to provide office floors of up to 1600sq m — which it is banking on to help convince major pharmaceutical companies and medical education groups to take up residence, and to help them lure their staff back into the CBD.

“This is very rare,” said APH chief executive Johnson Zhang.

“But that’s what attracts the number one tenants, who need to have all their staff on the same floor.

“And we will also look to create outdoor space and balconies where people can share and collaborate.”

Mr Zhang said planning permits would take most of this year to arrange, but that the firm would use that time to look for additional ways to “bring people back”.

“We as human beings love collaboration,” he said.

“Rosters might change, but ultimately human behaviour will require those direct connections.

“We are optimistic about Melbourne’s ability to bounce back from the pandemic and we want to play a big role in returning the CBD to its rightful place as an economic powerhouse.”

The firm is also working with noted CBD architectural firm Fender Katsalidis to make the space as suitable as possible to educators, medical firms and high-end hospitality.

With a desire to line laneways around the sites with hawker-style food vendors and public art exhibitions, the intent is to make the area a day-to-day destination.

“And we want to make the most of the beautiful, heritage facades to celebrate the location’s DNA and make it the next destination everyone wants to go to,” Mr Zhang said.

With trams linking it to the nearby medical and education precincts — and the firm having worked closely with similar industries in developments around Forest Hill and Box Hill, it anticipates similar employers will gravitate to the site.

If a permit is granted by the end of this year APH expects to commence a 36-month build shortly after.

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