Docklands: the Manhattan end of Collins Street

    Docklands, located in Melbourne Victoria, has come a long way since its inception some 15 years ago. While there is a long way to go, Docklands owns much of its success to the early pioneers who were willing to give it a chance.

    The NAB Melbourne complex was probably the key development in Docklands success. Without such a large institutional presence, the ability of Docklands to attract quality tenants would not have been possible. NAB at the time was the equivalent of an anchor tenant in a shopping centre. It was the key to attracting other smaller and large-scale tenants.

    The development of the NAB complex at 800 Bourke Street Melbourne was inspired by a trend in office building function that sought a more horizontal management approach to corporations. It encourages horizontal building form, rather than a large vertical towers, where management is far away from key staff. The design philosophy was again reflected in the development of the ANZ building, Australia’s largest single tenanted office building at 833 Collins Street Melbourne. Only in Docklands could such large footprints be found and relatively affordable in comparison to the Melbourne CBD.

    With two of the nations largest financial institutions on-board, the financial sector began to shift from east to west. From the Paris end of Collins Street to the Manhattan end. Commonwealth Bank then moved much of its Melbourne headquarters into the new Walker Group development at Collins Square Melbourne, encouraging many complimentary service providers to follow suit. The likes of AMP, March Mercer and the ATO now call Collins Street, Docklands Melbourne home. Soon KPMG will join the ranks at Collins Square in a 147 metre tall tower, with 38 floors.

    Ernst & Young and PWC are no doubt in the hunt for quality office spaces to be near their key clients and competitors. The only big four bank not in the precinct is Westpac, which must also be considering the move. These types of financial tenants need large spaces and the Grollo Group is proposing such a development.

    The Grollo Group proposes a 189 metre tower at 710 Collins Street Melbourne, to replace the Places Victoria entrance, with 39 levels. Though there are some heritage complications with the good sheds at the rear, no doubt these will be overcome, with the Minister for Planning more than happy to approve such a large investment into the precinct.

    While docklands does have some soul finding to do, the redevelopment opportunities are being taken up and the financial sector is embracing the precinct. With its easy access to public transport, major arterial road network and competitive advantage, Docklands is on the up and the Manhattan End of Collins Street is leading the charge.

    Written by:
    Adam Parker is the Director of Town Planning Group, a Melbourne based town planning consultancy.