Published on timeout
Mama Baba on 21 Daly St
You've got to hand it to George Calombaris - the guy knows how to turn food into money. He's nailed a restaurant formula (simple menu, casual space, great service) that has Melbourne queuing up to empty their pockets wherever he plants his flag and whatever the cuisine. Mama Baba is the seventh restaurant to open under the Made Establishment banner (including PM 24, Press Club and Hellenic Republic), and this time, it's all about pasta.
Ex-Becco chef Dominic Pipicelli is in charge here, and has the unenviable task of re-creating the dishes inspired by Calombaris' Greek mama and Italian baba. The open kitchen is festooned with drying spaghetti, all destined for the carbonara. In true Calombaris style, it's a modern rendering of the classic Italian dish. Saffron broth is poured over egg yolk and parmesan to form a creamy sauce that coats slippery pasta strands, crisp strips of sweet, thick cut pancetta, and fried calamari. An interesting twist, but the calamari does little to enhance an otherwise excellent plate of spaghetti. Overall, it's the simplest dishes that work the best here. Like fritti misti ($11.50) lightly battered mussels, calamari tentacles and whole white bait served with a snappy tartare for dipping. Or the 'parma'($7.50) which translates as two mini chicken schnitzel burgers on brioche buns, salty with jamon and spiked with fresh tomato relish.
China Based Developers Flood Melbourne
CHINA-based developers are swarming to redevelop Melbourne residential projects, with 11 projects, yielding some 3000 flats on the cards.
Last month the Jiangxi-based Lyz Group paid the Deague family about $23 million for a major residential development site in Daly Street, South Yarra.
North of the city, Chinese developers are also behind a controversial redevelopment of the Northcote AMF Bowl Centre.
Commercial selling agent Mark Wizel told the AFR Chinese developers "sell the end product in the same way that any local developer sells – local sales and also offshore investor sales".
David Wu, the director of a China based developer, Paragon, expects "the lion's share" of a major project it is marketing in Carlton, to sell to overseas investors "in spite of the dominance of owner-occupiers in the suburb".
Thomsons Lawyers property partner Eu Ming Lim said Chinese developers are attracted to Australian markets because of the country's reliable economic and commercial environment and the clarity of our planning system.
"Mainland Chinese developers who come here aren't listed companies like elsewhere in south-east Asia," Mr Lim said. "It's individuals and private companies diversifying out of manufacturing or other businesses."
Foreign ownership laws previously restricted developers to selling 50 per cent of their projects to overseas investors. Thanks to the Gillard Rudd government there is now no limit, provided more than 100 flats are within a development.
Projects with an end value of less than $50 million also require no Foreign Investment Review Board approval.
Fridcorp May Purchase South Yarra Tresor Site For $13 Million
IT COULD be back to the drawing board for a prominent South Yarra apartment proposal abutting Melbourne High School, and which was opposed by billionaire entrepreneur Lindsay Fox, and a swag of undisclosed establishment families, before finally winning approval in 2009.
Nightclub manager and property developer Jerry Pilarinos is understood to have sold control of the Tresor project, on the north-west corner of Chapel Street and Alexandra Avenue, to boutique builder Fridcorp, in an off-market deal worth some $13 million.
Any sale would end months of speculation the distinctive, curved apartment project might be abandoned, and a legal case ensued by financiers and investors.
Pilarinos fought for years to build flats on the riverfront site, which was a former Lamborghini dealership. Many objections were received from the community associated with the college, and old boy Mr Fox, who lands his private helicopter at the school's helipad.
However, a 14-level, 99 unit complex was approved in 2009, and marketing of Tresor started last year.
The French-chic themed launch was catered by Sydney-chef Guillaume Brahimi, and included model waitresses in Chanel suits. Amongst Tresor's highest profile buyers is Channel Nine managing director Jeff Browne, who reportedly paid some $5 million for a four-bedroom apartment.
A Fridcorp spokeswoman said the developer could not comment at this stage, as no deal has been confirmed. It's speculated Fridcorp will propose a new concept for the site, which may try to push height, or density.
Fridcorp is renowned for developing high end apartment products. Its other major inner-city projects include lili, in nearby Claremont Street, which replaces the notorious Salt nightclub. It is also rebuilding part of Channel Seven's former South Melbourne studios as an apartment complex called elm.
Pilarinos, who could not be contacted, is currently selling Bourke Street's Metro Nightclub site in a deal expected to fetch some $20 million. That 1454 square metre asset is being marketed by Colliers International's Bryson Cameron as a residential development site, but won't be offered with a permit.
Melbourne Vacant Office Sells to Chinese Investor For $45 Million
ONE of the Melbourne CBD's few remaining ghost towers has sold to a Chinese developer for $45 million.
The 21-level Communications House at 199 William Street (right) includes a 19,500 square metre office that has been vacant for more than ten years. The asset was offloaded by another Asia based investor with the registered company name Memo Corporation.
The building's site area is 3318 square metres and the building is in the heart of what is known as the Melbourne CBD legal precinct. It's residential redevelopment potential was touted throughout marketing.
Last November Australand paid $45 million for another "CBD ghost tower" - the former ASX building at 357 Collins Street. After plans by its previous owners in the downturn to convert the building into a residential use, Australand has decided to convert it back into an office. The building only has a few car parks.