By Graeme Kemlo

Northbank, across the Yarra footbridge from the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) is finally getting a long overdue revamp with a billion dollar redevelopment of hotels, apartments, offices, meeting and event spaces, plus a 3500 sqm public park.

To the west of this stretch of river is Seafarers’ $5oo million development, which includes Australia’s first sustainable luxury 1 Hotel,  due to open by 2023 with 280 rooms and a 1000-seat ground floor function and event space. At the east end, near Spencer Street, is another new hotel brand for Melbourne, the luxury St Regis, which is due to open with 168 rooms in 2022. Both hotels are designed by Melbourne’s Fender Katsalidis Architects.

The Seafarers development pays homage to The Mission to Seafarers centre on the site. And it retains the 80-year-old Goods Shed 5, which was initially proposed as the venue for a 2018 experiential collaboration between the MCEC and Cirque du Soleil spin-off, C2 International, to re-define conferencing.

Australia’s first St Regis will have a Spencer Street address – it is behind the existing Crowne Plaza – and is said to be costing almost $1 million a room.  It will occupy nine floors in one of three towers of apartments on the site.

While St Regis was originally Starwood’s luxury European brand and is now part of Marriott, the 1 Hotels brand was created by Barry Sternlicht, who created the W Hotels brand which is now run by Marriott. However, 1 Hotels is part of Sternlicht’s SH Hotels.

Northbank Precinct Group comprises Riverleee, Mirvac and Peakstone property developers.  In a post on LinkedIn, Riverlee’s development director David Lee said the idea was “to transform the remnants of Melbourne’s original waterfront into a thriving mixed-use precinct and give back to all Melburnians a fresh and exciting place to reconnect with the Northern banks of the Yarra River.”

Lee said Northbank Precinct Group would invest nearly $1 billion in the revitalisation of the precinct over the next five years. Northbank is officially part of the Docklands suburb.

Other major hotel brands coming to Melbourne include Marriott’s W Melbourne under construction at 447 Collins Street, a unique 42-storey twin tower with a skybridge linking the towers – one tower is residential, the other houses W’s 294 rooms, including 40 suites and 850 sqm of event space.

Also new, and probably first to open is Ritz Carlton West Side Place due next year with 203 rooms and a 500-seat ballroom.  It is set to add a touch of class to the western end of the CBD – it has a Level 79 check-in, which will provide great views over Port Phillip Bay.

Another new hotel brand announced for Melbourne, Mandarin Oriental, with a design by internationally-renowned