Gurner calls in US design house SOM to create a landmark for his Melbourne trophy site

Gurner calls in US design house SOM to create a landmark for his Melbourne trophy site

Artist's impression of Gurner Group's new St Kilda Road project

Development industry rich-lister Tim Gurner has turned to a famed Chicago-based architect to create a landmark project for a St Kilda Road trophy site that his company Gurner Group acquired for $80 million last year.

Gurner has unveiled his plans for a major mixed-used development on the inner-Melbourne site that will include 200 apartments over 19 levels as well as ground-floor retail, food and beverage outlets, and a wellness offering.

The prime corner site, which is bounded by St Kilda Road, Toorak Road and Queens Lane, is across the road from St Moritz, one of Gurner’s earlier joint venture projects with veteran Melbourne developer Morry Schawartz. The St Kilda Road development was among Gurner’s first before striking out on his own with Gurner Group in 2013.

The site of the latest development has long been in Gurner’s sights with the plans announced today representing the second development for Gurner Group’s GIC-backed build-to-sell fund following the July purchase of 189 Kent Street in Sydney for more than $200 million.

Gurner has not provided an estimate of the end value of the new Melbourne project, but the company had mooted a development worth $800 million when it acquired the site last year.

The company has appointed Chicago-based SOM, the firm behind landmark projects such as the Burj Khalifa and One World Trade Centre in New York, as architect for the St Kilda Road development following an international design competition.

This is Gurner’s first collaboration with SOM (formerly Skidmore, Ownings, and Merrill LLP) which was founded in 1936. But the company is no stranger to Melbourne, having worked recently with local developer V-Leader on proposed projects at Toorak Road and Lonsdale Street.

“We are looking forward to shaping such an important corner of Melbourne’s history,” says Gurner.

“This site was once the famous Illoura House, which was sadly was demolished many years ago.

“We will be bringing the corner back to life with an incredible design by SOM that we wanted to be classic, calm and quietly proud to sit in its location, ensuring that it stands the test of time.

“We will be taking the high-end offering to a whole new level after the successful delivery of Saint Moritz which has set tone for our concept at 424 St Kilda Road.”

Gurner has proposed a luxury offering for the project comprising large two, three, four-bedroom apartments and two double-storey penthouses with residents sharing in the company’s signature amenity offering.

“We are incredibly excited to be working with internationally renowned architecture firm SOM to design this landmark project and are privileged to be working with such a distinguished firm to breathe new life into this landmark site,” says Gurner Group’s chief development officer Rob Clarke.

“With its prominent corner presence, this site requires a certain elegance in its design and reimagining of its use to unlock not only its value as a significant residential asset, but a design monument in its own right.

“Our vision is to create a series of wellness-led residences that can be amalgamated, customised and completely imagined from the inside out, in line with our clients’ exacting tastes, to create a series of bespoke homes for our discerning clientele.

“We are excited to have reached this milestone and we look forward to working collaboratively with the City of Port Phillip through the planning process to achieve this vision and move through to delivery.”

Gurner Group says the winning design from SOM takes cues from the “rich history of St Kilda Road’s old world mansions through its elegant masonry façade, and will focus on high-end residences with a secret porte cochere arrival experience and lobby underground”.

The 4,651sqm corner site offers uninterrupted views over the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain precinct and Albert Park Lake.

Gurner says that, once completed, the project will offer walkability to Anzac Station, Albert Park Lake, the Royal Botanic Gardens and Fawkner Park, and it will be within easy reach to South Yarra’s retail and dining precinct.

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