“As well as a waste of resources and money, the withdrawal of the application is a significant loss for Melbourne in securing a world-class boutique hotel and hospitality business. Our efforts are now focused on Sydney.”
Plans for the site include converting the existing mansion and building a three-storey boutique hotel and club, which will include a swimming pool, two restaurant bars and a garden lounge.
“Residents are very concerned about this application for a residential area. It’s the wind behind our sails,” said Gail Gladhill, president of Melbourne’s South Yarra Residents Group.
Other members of the residents’ group include Jan Armstrong-Conn OAM, secretary to the Lilian Frank Special Events Committee at the Royal Children’s Hospital in the 1980s, and renowned filmmaker David Parker.
Soho House has never publicly confirmed its interest in the site, but planning documents mention an “international private members’ club operator” with venues in New York, London, Barcelona and Berlin – all Soho House sites.
A council source confirmed to this newspaper a year ago Soho House is the intended operatorIts members’ clubs have attracted clients from the media and marketing industries, away from the lawyers and politicians who frequent traditional members’ clubs such as the Australia and Melbourne clubs.
Soho House did not respond from ageIt is understood that an executive of the company is currently looking for a suitable location in Australia. The company’s preferred business model is to maximize profits by juxtaposing clubs with boutique hotels to generate more revenue.
The City of Melbourne rejected the initial development application in August. The developer then appealed to VCAT. Residents groups, Stonnington and Port Phillip councils have joined the City of Melbourne in opposing the call. The developer withdrew its appeal in late October after a mandatory meeting.
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