Room at the Top

When it was built in the 1970s, 99 Spring was one of Melbourne’s first modern high-rise apartment towers in the CBD. Slowly it evolved into one of Australia’s most exclusive addresses.

Among those who’ve had a bolthole within the 24-storey tower over the decades are the Packers, the Podgorniks and the Potters.

Kerry Packer’s former Melbourne apartment cost $383,000 in 1983, with another $360,000 spent to make up the whole 12th floor. The apartment was sold in 2000 for $1.5 million.

The esteemed Australian psychiatrist and author Ainslie Meares was one of the first residents to move into the building, which is set close to the Paris end of Collins Street, Restauranteur George Tsindos, who ran the popular Bourke Street restaurant Florentino’s, called a 16th floor apartment his home.

The former ABC boss Jonathan Shier bought in for $1.575 million in 2013, from zookeeper Emmanuel Margolin, one of Sydney’s larger-than-life characters and formerly a car dealer in 1960s Melbourne. In 2016, Mark Nelson from Caledonia Investments spent $2.41 million on the 24th floor.

The easternmost street in the original 1837 Hoddle Grid, Spring Street is resplendent with light, and overlooks the autumnal Treasury and Fitzroy Gardens. Bookended by the Old Treasury Building – one of the city’s finest examples of Renaissance Revival architecture – and the Victorian-era Princess Theatre, Spring Street has re-emerged in a recent rush as a high-rise residential destination, despite its associations with the 1970s.

Near neighbour of 99 Spring, the upcoming No.85 Spring Street (architect impression pictured above), ranks among the last developable sites along the famed stretch.

Its developer, Jeff Xu’s Golden Age, proposes a $400 million, 39-level residential project with sculptural contemporary geometry, set above Parliament Station at the top end of town.

Designed by Bates Smart, the building’s exterior takes its inspiration from Spring Street’s European character and the stonework of Parliament House, while the custom brickwork recalls the traditional aesthetic of nearby warehouses. The concept draws upon Rationalism, Modernism and the German philosophy of Gesamtkunstwerk to deliver a complete work of art across the external form, interiors and material palette.

Kristen Whittle, director of Bates Smart, says Spring Street is Melbourne CBD’s home of grandeur and majesty. And living directly beside substantial mature civic gardens has New York-style significance, he suggests.

The initial price list for the 138 apartments at 85 Spring ranged up to $8 million for a state-of-the-art three-bedroom abode.

99 Spring Street was built as a $2.8 million Leighton project of a Moore and Hammond design. The Krongold carpet family were among initial buyers on the top floor, but its penthouse attracted national attention when owned by entrepreneur Robert Holmes a Court.

The dapper Perth business tycoon paid $160,000 and $225,000 in 1980m to consolidate the floor. It was his base when he plotted his sharemarket raids on nearby Melbourne icons The Herald & Weekly Times and BHP.

Encompassing the entire 25th floor, the four-bedroom, three-bathroom 420sq m apartment had a home office and an outdoor terrace offering views over the CBD. At the time it was considered Melbourne’s ultimate penthouse, but it has recently faced strong competition from new contenders.

The Holmes a Court family sold the apartment for $2 million in 2003. Businessman and art collector Greg Hargrave bought it for $4.08 million in 2013 and had it transformed by Kerry Phelan of KPDO, who installed graffiti art by Anthony Lister in its lift foyer. Hargrave sold the apartment last year for $7 million.

At 85 Spring, the communal lobby is the location for Golden Age’s grand art plans. It has collaborated with celebrated artist Bill Henson in commissioning his first ever film production, which will be included in an artworks installation.

Bates Smart also designed the recently completed $350-million Cbus Property project 35 Spring Street, which rises 45 storeys with 270 apartments priced from $600,000 to more than $6 million. Prices in the development hit nearly $7.95 million in 2013 when Hargrave also bought there. The family of Cbus boss Adrian Pozzo picked up a couple of apartments, as did chef Shannon Bennett.

Last year Cbus also purchased the Mercure Treasury Gardens Hotel at 13 Spring street from the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, with the intention of developing another apartment tower.

In between the two sits Philadelphia tower at 31 Spring Street.

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