Costa Fox has tower plans for Lorimer Street site

Boutique developer Costa Fox expects strong population growth to underpin a resurgence in Melbourne’s apartment market and has lodged plans for a 40-story residential tower in Docklands to take advantage.

The development business, backed by Geelong’s wealthy Costa family and run by former Little Group executive Michael Fox, will add nearly 400 owner-occupier apartments at a time when others are backpedalling on projects.

New state taxes introduced in July and a federal government foreign ownership clampdown have slowed offshore investment in Melbourne’s new apartment sector, unsettling developers in a year when 16,700 units are set to be completed.

“Our plan is to sit on it and bring it out at the appropriate time in future. In 12 months time the market will be ready for more accommodation,” Mr Fox said.

The $300 million tower, foreshadowed in BusinessDay in August, has been designed by architects Rothe Lowman.

The bulk of the dark grey, sharply-angled structure will be made up of two-bedroom apartments that are designed to joined together if required in a bid to attract owner-occupiers.

Only 92 of the 396 apartments will be one-bedders. The others units will be made up of 260 two-bedroom, 40 three-bedroom and four four-bed apartments.

The tower will rise on a corner block at 111 Lorimer Street in Fisherman’s Bend purchased for about $15 million in a location immediately behind Mirvac’s low-rise Yarra’s Edge development.

Nearby, Shanghai-based developer Mid-Universe paid Paul Little’s Little Developments $60 million to buy 85-93 Lorimer Street with a permit for a twin towers project.

Mr Fox said the 111 Lorimer project was within easy walking distance across the Yarra River from the heart of the city’s Docklands financial centre.

The Costa Fox development business was set up with the backing of Costa Asset Management, a diversified agricultural, equity and real estate business chaired by Robert Costa.

It has amassed a portfolio of five industrial and residential development sites for more than $60 million.