New York-style rent-controlled apartments coming to Melbourne

Offering half-priced rent for low income earners, a new rental model is coming to town — and it’s part of a development including a five-star hotel that offers guests access to a butler.

Melbourne is set to get its first New York-style, privately owned rent-controlled apartments.

Low and middle-income workers will be able to lease the apartments at half the going rate for an apartment in the city.

The about $800 million development that will house them will also host hundreds of luxury apartments, and a five-star hotel that offers guests a butler service.

But the approval comes at the expense of Melbourne City Council concerns about overshadowing the Yarra River.

Planning Minister Richard Wynne yesterday approved the three tower Flinders Bank development without reducing its height, while slashing the number of residences from 1060 to 700 and introducing a public plaza at its base along Siddeley St.

Melbourne Council had raised concerns the overshadowing caused by the World Trade Centre site development at 7-23 Spencer St, Docklands would be a poor outcome for the river.

The minister also announced that the Fender Katsilidis Architects-designed development would house 20 apartments that would be reserved for low or middle income earners at half of their normal rental value, for the life of the building.

They mark a first step towards New York-style rent-controlled apartments, as they will be the first to go into that space that remain privately owned.

Affordable housing advocate Robert Pradolin said the approval was a win and hoped the new model would encourage other developers to include affordable housing options in their projects.

“This is a catalyst that will provide a change in paradigm that will allow other projects to learn from it and copy it,” Mr Pradolin said.

The model had drawn its concept from New York’s rent controlled apartments, he added.

Rent control is a necessity for low and middle income workers on Manhattan, where studio apartments rent for an average $3520 (AUD) a month.

Developer Century Group Aus welcomed the approval, stating it was proud to offer affordable housing to key workers in the city.

“It will surely give the development sector great confidence to see the consideration of the full scheme and the concerns regarding overshadowing put in context, as this is minimal, taking effect in the middle of the river in the middle of winter,” said executive director Connie Wu.

Construction on Flinders Bank is expected to begin in 2019 and conclude in 2021.

Originally published on the Herald Sun as New York-style rent system to hit Melbourne