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Little rises at Richmond Hill

Australian Financial Review

Australian Financial Review
October 1st, 2014
By Nick Lenaghan

Developer Paul Little’s Little Projects has lodged plans for a $130 million apartment tower after snaring a large site on the Bridge Road shopping strip, at Richmond in inner-city Melbourne.

Bridge Road has long been a favourite haunt for bargain hunters attracted by its factory outlet shops, although the precinct has been through a lull in recent times as shoppers are wooed back into the city by the international retail brands and big discount stores.

Now Bridge Road is headed for it next phase as residential developments, including Little Projects’ 192 unit plan, inject new activity.

“The shift into residential will boost the whole strip” Little Projects Managing Director Michael Fox said.

“I see Bridge Road leading its own recovery through rejuvenation, new planning permits and apartments and people moving closer to the city on a public transport route”.

Little Projects acquired the 2700 square metre site at 153-177 Bridge Road for about $20million. It is currently home to a Thomas Dux supermarket. Mr Fox has some good reasons to be confident. The site – with its heritage façade to be retained – sits in a prime position at the top of Richmond Hill, not far from Fitzroy Gardens, the MCG and public transport.

Little Projects has recently finished the Tip Top project in Brunswick East and has sold out the 357 unit Central Apartments in South Yarra.

The proposed Richmond apartments – from one to three bedrooms – are expected to range from $400,000 – $750,000.

Mr Fox is not troubled by the Reserve Bank’s warnings about an overheating investor- led property market and the banks particular worry about over-supply in Melbourne.

The reason is simple: Little Projects has steered away from Melbourne CBD and Southbank projects, where some apartments have been discounted in the secondary market.

Resales from another Little project in Richmond in 2007 have added $200,000 to the value of units there. Mr Fox also pointed to the forecast 1.6million new dwellings needed in Melbourne by 2051.

That made investors – who buy around half of Little offers – crucial. “We need the investors to keep the supply up. If they limit that then the affordability will go through the roof” he said.

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