Fragrance changes its mind on $100m CBD sale

SINGAPOREAN billionaire Koh Wee Meng’s Fragrance Group appears to have changed its mind on offloading 555 Collins St for $100 million.

Fragrance officially launched the significantly scaled down mixed use development on the weekend after putting the site on the market in January last year with an asking price of $100 million.

The 47 levels residential tower will comprise 625 apartments, ground floor retail spaces and basement car parking.

It is significantly smaller than Fragrance’s original proposal for a 91-storey project comprising a 204-room hotel, 408 apartments and 40,000 sqm of office space.

Executive director Periakaruppan Aravindan said 555 Collins is a unique corner site in the bustling Melbourne CBD.“Known locally as the Golden Mile, Collins Street is considered to be one of the most sought after address in Melbourne, being the central hub for business, boutique retail offerings and high-end residential properties,” Aravindan said.

The new 47-level development is significantly smaller than Fragrance’s original plans for a 91-storey skyscraper which was rejected by Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne in April last year, reversing a decision made by his predecessor Matthew Guy.

Fragrance bought the site from Harry Stamoulis in June 2014 for $78 million, who had bought it a year earlier for $38 million.

Stamoulis initially proposed to build a 82-level 404-metre office tower comprising 60,000 sqm, which was endorsed by Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle.

Former Planning Minister Guy also made an exception in the Melbourne Planning Scheme to allow Stamoulis to build the 404-metre tower which would otherwise be rejected because it would have overshadowed the Yarra River.

When the site was sold to Koh Wee Meng’s Fragrance Group, the Singaporean group had grand visions for the site, proposing a 91-storey project comprising a 204-room hotel, 408 apartments and 40,000 sqm of office space.

In January last year, Fragrance put the 2,300 sqm site on the market with an asking price of at least $100 million.

However three months after listing the site, Minister Wynne rejected Fragrance’s proposal because it would have overshadowed the Yarra River.

Minister Wynne also reversed Planning Minister Matthew Guy’s special clause in the Melbourne Planning Scheme to exempt 555 Collins St.

At the time, there were concerns Wynne’s decision could affect the sale price of the site.

The Minister said 555 Collins St should not be exempt from the rules that apply to all developments in CBD.

In September last year, Wynne approved a smaller 47-storey apartment project.

Australian Property Journal