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HomeNewsUnexpected developments: hidden city beneath Melbourne’s CBD, roller coasters and Gatwick gong

Unexpected developments: hidden city beneath Melbourne’s CBD, roller coasters and Gatwick gong

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From Melbourne’s future tallest tower to the future of Victorian homes, there have been some truly unexpected developments in 2022.

From a forgotten city buried beneath Melbourne, to Gumbuya World growing as the nation’s biggest theme park by landsize and the once infamous Gatwick Hotel getting a gong — Victoria’s property development sector has had some truly unimaginable twists this year.

There were even project perks for Bec Judd, horse racing fans and a brand new price record for Melbourne’s apartment market in a tower that is years from completion.

But one of the year’s most unexpected developments could have big ramifications for the state’s homebuyers in 2023 and beyond.

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Almost 170 years ago an early Melbourne slum that was prone to flooding near the northeast end of what is now the city’s CBD was filled in and covered over.

It was then promptly forgotten about.

In August this year the construction team for the Bennetts Lane mixed-use office building development revealed they had unearthed its remains and sent in an archaeological dig team.

Melbourne's Pompeii - hidden city being unearthed in CBD

Archaeologists work on the site unearthed beneath Melbourne’s CBD. Picture: Jason Edwards.

Remarkable footprints to some of the city’s earliest buildings have since been uncovered, including bluestone walls, staircases and fireplaces. Dolls, game tokens, marbles, bottles and other features of daily life have also been unearthed.

The backers of the 20-storey development, Perri Projects and the Pellicano Group, opened it up to the public before moving on with construction, but plan to incorporate some of the ancient finds into the new building which is expected to be completed in 2025.


Gumbuya World Lazy River - for herald sun real estate

Gumbuya World was already well known for its water park features.

Queensland has long been known as a hot spot for theme park lovers, but Victoria’s Gumbuya World could well have them licked after its operators bought out a 44.5ha rose farm next door in Garfield.

The $2.6m purchase catapulted the theme park to an enormous 287ha that dwarfs even Dream World on the Gold Coast.

And they celebrated a few months later by opening a pair of new roller coasters worth a combined $40m.


An artists impression of one of the new roller coasters.

Gumbuya Group chief executive Ron Weinzierl said plans for the new acquisition would be discussed with local stakeholders as well as the government, but the organisation was determined to compete with the nation’s best attractions.

With the new roller coasters the theme park has 13 major rides and more than 50 total attractions including native wildlife and zoo spaces – making it one of the most diverse family destinations in the state.


STH BNK By Beulah tailored living residences render

STH BNK By Beulah tailored living residences render

A Southbank skyscraper planned as the tallest in Australia began selling homes early this year.

And it set a $35m record for Victoria’s highest-ever apartment price in its first weekend of sales.

What really stands out though is top addresses in the 101-storey, 356m tall STH BNK By Beulah tower haven’t yet hit the market.

The lofty sale in April was set by a sub-penthouse between levels 75 and 82.

A unique green spine along the tower, which will form part of a multi-building complex complete with a sky-high luxury hotel, will lead to extensive garden plantings along key facade elements.

An aspect that could find its way inside the $35m residence, with concept art hinting Beulah are open to installing a private pool and even mature trees inside the residence.


Years after The Block wrapped up there, the Gatwick Hotel collected an architectural award.

Once upon a time the Gatwick Hotel in Fitzroy St, St Kilda, was the scene of violent crimes as extreme as murder, drug activity and all manner of sleaze and the ill at ease.

Now it contains an award-winning address, but not one of the homes created for renovation reality TV show The Block.

They missed a pair of ground-floor residences that were ultimately sold to Kosloff Architects whose directors decided to make it their own home.

A Gatwick Hotel apartment designed by Kosloff Architecture has been shortlisted for the Victorian Architecture Awards MUST CREDIT - DEREK SWALWELL

Inside the award-winning renovation. Picture: Derek Swalwell.

In May this year, Julian Kosloff and Stephanie Bullock’s efforts were rewarded when the Australian Institute of Architects short-listed it for a handful of the state’s top Architecture Awards.

Their pared-back redesign that left exposed brickwork and copper went a step further in June, collecting an interior architecture award years after the TV show walked away from the infamous hotel.


Home under construction

New home builds are likely to move to a new seven-star energy efficiency standard sooner than was expected by the housing industry.

It’s been known for a while that Australia would eventually move from a six-star National House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) minimum standard to a seven-star rating for new home builds

But few in the industry were expecting a meeting of the nation’s building ministers to make the change mandatory under the National Construction Code from next year.

The announcement was made late in August, with a transition period to commence from May next year.

Victorian building industry groups currently believe the state will push on with ending that transition on October 1 next year, despite alarm bells being rung by peak industry groups and some of the nation’s largest builders.

Both the Housing Institute of Australia and Master Builders’ Victorian executives have flagged fears over the short timeline, while a senior member of Australia’s biggest housing construction firm Metricon said they were still hoping for “sanity to prevail” with more time.

Typical Australian house with masonry veneer walls

After a year of grappling with building cost surges, the industry now fears the rapid switch to a seven-star minimum standard for efficiency could cause cost hikes for key materials.

Key concerns relate to supply chains for double-glazing and solar panels, as well as developing home designs that will provide better sealing without increased risk of mould growth.

Cost blow outs into the tens of thousands of dollars are also expected to hit people buying or building new houses as well as units as the changes come into play.

However sustainable building proponents have flagged advances in technology as heightened demand creates an economy of scale, and the existing benefits for reduced energy bills will help offset costs for buyers.

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Story Credit: news.com.au

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