THREE years after former ALP state deputy opposition leader and Niddrie MP Rob Hulls declared ''no one would now or in 20 years expect the carve-up of a golf course to build a highway'' - exactly that is happening, affecting the spectacularly located site he was talking about on the banks of the Maribyrnong River in Maidstone.
A large part of the 18-hole Medway Golf Club is set to make way for a controversial infrastructure project expected to ease traffic congestion on busy Ballarat Road - but it would create a major thoroughfare and bridge through what are now fairways, and a leafy escarpment abutting the Maribyrnong River, about eight kilometres north-west of the CBD.
What would become of the balance of the riverside golf course, which was established in 1935, is unknown. Considered the most picturesque part of Maidstone, land surrounding the new road could make way for a mixed-use village similar to riverside-based projects proposed in Alphington, Footscray and Kew.
The river prohibits direct road access between west and north-western suburbs Avondale Heights, Braybrook, Maidstone and Sunshine North - all of which have experienced a population surge in recent decades.
The new road would extend Ashley Street north-west through Medway over the Maribyrnong River to Avondale Heights, and a vacant block of land on Canning Street that will become a major T-intersection.
The route was selected by council after it dumped three other potential bridge crossings, including one that would have extended North Road, Avondale Heights, to Duke Street, Sunshine North.
First earmarked in about 1959, the Ashley Street bridge was part of the Maribyrnong and Northern Maribyrnong Integrated Transport Strategy accepted by Maribyrnong City Council earlier this year.
Members of the neighbouring City of Moonee Valley council are opposing the bridge, arguing that it will bring increased traffic to its suburbs, including Essendon and Keilor East. Canning Street is expected to be used more intensely after the 128-hectare Department of Defence explosives factory site nearby is redeveloped with a high-density mixed-use village.
Medway manager Philip Carlton told Capital Gain the proposed road would have a dramatic impact on the club. He would not comment about whether Medway, which is a strong performer financially and has had increasing membership for decades, could merge, move or be reconfigured, presumably as a nine-hole course around a new road.
A Maribyrnong council spokesman did not reply to questions from Capital Gain.
Across town in Doncaster, developer Mirvac recently paid $100 million for the 47-hectare outgoing Eastern Golf Course site, earmarked in the medium term to become a $1 billion-plus mixed-use village with high-density housing, offices and shops.
Former golf courses at Croydon and Sunshine have also made way for new housing estates in recent years after the owners of those courses accepted lucrative offers from developers that allowed them to relocate to new courses built on cheaper land further from the CBD.
No handicap at Mildura
MEANWHILE, near the New South Wales border, the owners of the Mildura Golf Course have successfully had the course rezoned from public park and recreation zone to comprehensive development zone.
The rezoning makes it easier for the construction of medium density housing and tourist accommodation.
Near the town centre, the course will make way for a 100-lot housing estate and new golf resort.
What Mitre been
MORE than 100 observers - about half from the real estate industry - braced the cold to watch drinking and dining institution the Mitre Tavern bomb at auction yesterday.
The distinctive pub at 5-9 Bank Place, which holds one of Victoria's oldest continuous licences, was listed for sale by Toorak investor Ian Hicks, who paid hoteliers, the Robertson family, $6.3 million for it in 2008.
Identity John Khoury made a $6 million bid for the hotel, which was offered with a leaseback starting at a high annual rent of $430,000. The tavern passed in at $6.05 million.
A guest in the crowd included retired veteran agent Alexander Robertson; the agency of which he is namesake represented Mr Hicks.
Director Kristian Peatling told Capital Gain negotiations were continuing with prospective buyers and that he expected the assets would sell early next week. He is marketing the site with Warwick Bramich.
It was hoped the Mitre Tavern would sell for about $6.5 million.
Last week Capital Gain reported another popular city eatery, the Campari restaurant at 23-25 Hardware Lane, will soon hit the market with price expectations of about $5.5 million.
Evolving into Emporia
PRAHRAN'S former Evolution nightclub - reportedly one of the most complained about venues in the Stonnington City Council area before it shut eight years ago - is set for another incarnation.
The 132 Commercial Road site on the south-west corner of Grattan Street, has been approved for a nine-level, 140-unit apartment complex with 140 car park bays.
To be called Emporia, the project, by a consortium including Andrew Rice of Property Development Analysis (PDA) and OXDRA, replaces a much lower-density, eight-level, 45-unit complex, permitted for development about three years ago and marketed to investors as an ''uber-green'' project: 3181 Prahran.
Emporia is environmentally friendly in that it will fit three times as many residents on the 1910 square-metre site.
Near the Cullen Hotel, Emporia will include six retail shops and a cafe at ground level, filling a missing link between the existing retail strip and the railway line.
Mr Rice said Emporia was near fashionable cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs, shops and the Prahran Market (which is actually in South Yarra).
Demolition of the bright green building has started. Elsewhere in the inner-city, PDA is also developing a 26-level apartment complex, The Saint, at 3-5 St Kilda Road in St Kilda.
Lend Lease buy-up
SYDNEY-BASED developer Lend Lease Communities (Australia) has paid $20 million for a major residential development site in Melbourne's rapidly growing outer south-east.
The Cranbourne East site at 1555 South Gippsland Highway, about 46 kilometres from the CBD, was sold by Perth-based Peet Group, which controls other land parcels in the Casey City area.
Lend Lease is believed to have formalised an offer to buy the Cranbourne East site last month, but the 38.45-hectare block, with a 500-lot concept master plan, was put on the market just over a year ago. RPM Real Estate Group was the marketing agency at the time.
The land is just south of the Cranbourne Racecourse and near Casey Fields sporting complex and a proposed Cranbourne East railway station.
A Lend Lease representative would not comment on the deal, citing a media blackout during the reporting season.
It is expected Lend Lease will proceed with developing the Cranbourne East site into a $250 million-plus village as soon as possible.
The suburb divides the established activity centre of Cranbourne with Clyde North, and Clyde, vacant farmland earmarked by the Baillieu government for high density commercial and residential redevelopment in the medium and long term.
Early last year, developer MAB paid $9 million for a 21.8-hectare former equine hospital at 940 Thompsons Road, Cranbourne West, earmarked to become a business park.