14th May, 2014
Once upon a time, the Tip Top site in Brunswick East rang to the sound of horses’ hooves and the rumble of delivery wagons. The rich warm smells of yeast rising and loaves baking wafted around the neighbourhood. Time moved on, vans replaced the horses, and Tip Top closed after 65 years of baking.
The large site became derelict, but the neighbourhood evolved around it. Now, this northern end of Lygon Street is seriously hip with interesting bars and restaurants and sophisticated amenities.
In what is Little Projects’ proven strategy of recognising prime sites in the parts of inner Melbourne where people genuinely want to live, and developing them into outstanding residential communities, the company bought the site 3.5 kilometres from the city in 2009 and construction began in 2012.
The historic 1.22-hectare patch is now home to six distinctive buildings and, when completed in July, there will be 411 apartments and townhouses.
This has created a neighbourhood precinct that retains a large art deco building and adds equally distinctive designs from prestigious architecture and interior design practice Rothelowman, creating a master-planned community that will include a café, childcare centre and a retail outlet on the site. Laneways throughout have been opened up to create an easy flow for pedestrians and cyclists.
Buildings are named for the Tip Top days: Stables, Grain, Malt, Rye, Seeds and Silo.
A rooftop childcare centre, the Learning Sanctuary, for 92 neighbourhood children is appropriately housed atop Seeds.
“We wanted to give something back to the community, so we approached Moreland Council with the idea of a childcare centre. They were delighted,” Little Projects managing director Michael Fox says. In the basement of Seeds is a public car park with a lift directly to the centre.
Most of the Tip Top apartments have sold and several residents are moving in.
“We really focus on making purchasers feel welcome,” Fox says. The welcoming process begins as soon as the off-the-plan purchase is made, with buyers given regular updates including some by video.
Six months before moving in, Little Projects begins taking buyers through the settlement process.
The company supports and guides residents through every step of moving in, providing a range of services to welcome owners to their building and community. Little Projects has recently opened dedicated information and sales centre in the Stables building to welcome new residents.
Lift dimensions, services and data connection information as well as an owner’s manual are provided and the live-in building manager is there to ensure the moving in is harmonious for all. Buildings are connected to the National Broadband Network and residents have their own website. As an introduction to the community, Little Projects has compiled a map of the area that pinpoints retailers and service-providers and includes generous offers to new residents.
The precinct has a mix of one- and two0bedroom apartments in various configurations and a group of three-storey townhouses. Interiors are stylish and of three-story townhouses. Interiors are stylish and contemporary with welcoming lobbies and warm, neutral colours. They are designed to maximise the space, offer flexibility, and are fitted with high-quality appliances and fixtures. Timber floors are standard in some buildings, and carpets in others. One-bedroom apartments range from 39 to 50 square meters and two-bedrooms from 72 to 105 square meters. Prices range from $299,000 to $665,000, with the tree-bedroom townhouses launching soon at $1.15 million. All apartments have generous curved balconies and some have separate balcony off the main bedroom. All have split-system air-conditioners.
There is a lot of attention to detail in the finely crafted interiors. Storage is cleverly maximised in both the one- and two-bedroom apartments and may include pull-out pantries, large linen cupboards and generous bathroom storage. Kitchens have ample drawers, stone benchtops and Smeg appliances. European laundries include a tub. Some apartments have alcoves for desks or for the entertainment centre.
The rooftop of Stables houses a bank of solar panels to run the precinct’s outdoor lighting, and rainwater is collected for the gardens.
Little Projects has been a driver of lifestyle developments in Melbourne. The company’s principle of creating communities, not just buildings, is a winner, proving that true vertical villages are possible. With the number of singles living in apartments, communal facilities have become a great way to meet people.
ILK in South Yarra, and its sister building Central South Yarra, also in the Forrest Hill precinct, both sold quickly largely because of the high quailty of the facilities, says Fox. ILK’s communal areas of Kitchen, dining and lounge rooms, a cinema, and barbecue areas have set something of a benchmark and are popular with residents. Central South Yarra, due for completion in August 2015, gives the penthouse floor on level 30 back residents. Central South Yarra, due for completion in August 2015, gives the penthouse floor on level 30 back to residents – it will house the pool and gym as well as similar entertainment areas.
“ILK residents have a lot of pride in their building,” says Fox. “You see them showing friends around the whole complex. I’ve never seen a building where residents use the facilities more. It’s really created a great sense of community.”