Not a Beyonce fan: I only wanted an iconic building, developer says

18 Jan 11:25 AM
Michael Bleby - Financial Review
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It triggered countless headlines. The "Beyonce" building – the 79-level residential tower planned for Melbourne's Spencer Street – grabbed the world's attention when its curvaceous computer-generated image was unveiled to the world in 2015.

But at the sod-turning of the 780-apartment tower, officially known as Premier Tower, the man developing it made one significant admission.

Koh Wee Meng, the executive chairman of Singapore-listed Fragrance Group, is not a Beyonce fan.

In fact, Singapore's 26th richest person, with a fortune put by Forbes magazine at $US1.04 billion ($1.38 billion), hasn't even seen Ghost, the video clip with a stocking-clad, writhing superstar that inspired the bootylicious building design.

Life imitates art: Beyonce, left, in 'Ghost', and the tower the video inspired. Coincidentally.

"No," Dr Koh said starkly, when asked by The Australian Financial Review on Wednesday if he was a fan of the US singer.

Reade Dixon, the lead architect on the project – who was sitting next to Dr Koh in the interview – said the building did not set out to mimic the former Destiny's Child lead singer.

"It's not conceptually conceived out of the Beyonce position," said Mr Dixon, a principal of architecture firm Elenberg Fraser. "It uses the fluid curves in the corners of the building to disseminate the wind. That's the key challenge to build height in such small sites. It's just that there's been lots of carry forward with that relationship to Beyonce."

 

Four years to build

Mr Dixon pointed out, however, that the story of the building was "published in 80 countries in four days".

Singer Beyonce with the Dixie Chicks at the 50th Annual CMA Awards in November.

Dr Koh said the value of the $650 million building, which he said was "close to 75 per cent" sold, came from the fact that it was in a good location next to a train station.

"I only know that the architect has given us an iconic building," he said. "It's in no way related to Beyonce."

The tower on the corner of Bourke and Spencer Streets that now goes above its originally allowed 68 storeys will take four years to build and complete by the end of 2020. Dr Koh said he expected the financing environment for consumers to be easier by that stage than it is now.

"We are now at the low point," he said. "In two or three years' time the chances are it will be brighter."

Beyonce on Bourke: How the tower on the corner of Spencer and Bourke Streets in Melbourne will look.

Andrew Fortey, the managing director of project manager PDS Group, said it was likely there would be more funding options for purchasers by that time also.

Fragrance Group will this year start marketing its next planned Melbourne project, a 47-storey residential tower at 555 Collins Street. The exterior design hasn't yet been released, but it would not look like Beyonce, Dr Koh said.

"555 Collins Street is another type of design," he said.

Read more: 

http://www.afr.com/real-estate/commercial/development/not-a-beyonce-fan-i-only-wanted-an-iconic-building-developer-says-20170118-gttu9b#ixzz4WCXUSrji