MAB’s Escala defies the odds
By Jack Hayes
As the appetite for high-rise development in Melbourne declines, one Docklands stalwart continues to buck trends.
NewQuay based developer MAB has forged ahead with construction of its $135 million mixed-use development Escala despite widespread apprehension in Melbourne’s residential market.
According to a recent JLL Market Report, the number of developments submissions for approval in Melbourne has reduced from 18,000 apartments in mid-2017 to just 1700 apartments as of mid-2019.
Further data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) echoes this sentiment with apartment approvals falling to a seven-year low in late 2019, down by 9.7 per cent – the lowest monthly figure since July 2012.
MAB general manager of residential David Allt-Graham said Escala had managed to overcome challenging market conditions since its launch in February 2018.
“The current market conditions do not forgive any misstep. The product must be compelling. It must be competitively priced and delivered to a high standard,” Mr Allt-Graham said.
“Our product is different, giving Escala great cut-through. The loft product, with mezzanines opening into double-height living spaces is unique at the price points we are offering.”
Designed by Melbourne architecture firm Six Degrees, Escala has a durable artisan quality that stands out in the marketplace. Its nostalgic brick façade, with steel windows and stained-glass inlays, has appealed to both residential and commercial owner-occupiers.
Mr Allt-Graham said Docklands continued to draw purchasers, including owner-occupiers, as demonstrated with the recent successful settlement of its $160 million Elm & Stone apartment building at NewQuay.
Settlements were called in April, with more than 85 per cent of apartments settled within six weeks and just two apartments currently remain available for sale.
In a marketplace where new apartment releases have virtually dried up, MAB continues with its plans for a new Docklands project in 2020.
“There were no projects released in Docklands in 2019, and we may be one of the few in 2020. The fundamentals in Docklands are strengthening in terms of quality, amenity and scarcity, but the prices of new projects are also rising – so it is a delicate balance right now,” Mr Allt-Graham said.
Originally published in Docklands News 28/01/2020