EF Awarded Development Industry Top Honour for Urban Renewal

Essendon Fields was crowned winner of 2 major development awards at the prestigious annual UDIA Awards for Excellence on Friday 6th December, at a glittering gathering of more than 1000 property industry leaders at Melbourne’s Crown Casino.

The 24th UDIA Awards for Excellence, which recognises the best projects that promote quality and innovation across the urban development industry, highlighted the remarkable urban transformation at Essendon Fields since privatisation in 2001.

Essendon Fields emerged victorious in the Urban Renewal category and also took home the overall Judges Award for Metropolitan Melbourne, with the judges impressed by rejuvenation at Essendon Fields from a greenfield site and its underutilised Airport surrounds to a modern and successful business and community precinct that now employs more than 6000 daily workers.

The UDIA judges commended Essendon Fields on its transformation into an important employment hub for Melbourne, noting “Essendon Fields is an excellent location for new businesses, with good access and extensive services for workers, creating much needed suburban employment and is the worthy joint winner of the UDIA Judges Metropolitan Award.”

“The transformation of this 305 hectare site (being the old Essendon airport) into a master planned community that includes aviation uses as well as many retail outlets and commercial hubs is truly awe inspiring. The range of uses that have been re-established in the old hangars and warehouses and previous airport buildings on the site, is testament to the financial value that businesses have identified as a major drawcard. It makes this one of the most exciting urban redevelopments in the last 20 years” the UDIA concluded.

Brendan Pihan, CEO of Essendon Fields, said the recognition came at an important time for the precinct and rewarded the original vision of the owners.

“Essendon Fields is at a tipping point – it has real momentum.  These awards only validate what we see happening here every day: businesses looking away from the CBD for value, looking for a place that is more convenient and affordable for their staff, a place that is full of quality amenity.  We are grateful to the UDIA for this recognition and encourage business owners to come and explore the business park to see the great progress that has been made here” said Mr Pihan.

“The Beck and Fox families have always said they want to leave a lasting urban legacy at Essendon Fields that benefits the broader community and today’s award is timely recognition that EF has become a very attractive destination for people to work, shop and visit.  The transformation has been incredible. When the owners took over in 2001, the place employed around 200 people.  Now that number is more than 6000,’’ he said.

“The broader benefit to the surrounding community of Essendon Fields cannot be underestimated.  The precinct contributes the equivalent of almost 15 per cent of all jobs within the Moonee Valley region and 16 per cent of total municipal economic activity, supporting over $1 billion in annual value-added activity from both direct effects and supply-chain effects.’’

“Essendon Fields also does the unheralded important things that help make a place great, such as the thoughtful renewal of heritage buildings, design excellence in design of new A grade office, and a genuine commitment to placemaking, public art and environmental initiatives.  We are planting 10,000 new trees throughout the precinct, not because we have to, but because it makes huge difference to how people enjoy their time here,’’ Mr Pihan said.

Situated on a 305ha site just 15 kilometers from Melbourne’s CBD, Essendon Fields is one of the largest master-planned aviation, retail and commercial hubs in Melbourne and is home to more than 200 local, national and international organisations. Promoting aviation remains at the heart of Essendon Fields, supported by ongoing investment.

Essendon Fields has become a destinational location for office development, where organisations know their workers will enjoy working in the surrounds with outstanding food outlets, supermarkets like the iconic LaManna, medical and dental practices, childcare and a gymnasium. The attraction for workers and businesses has been strong, where for the past five years occupancy rates have been above 95 per cent.

More than one million residents live within 15 minutes’ drive of Essendon Fields, while up to 2.6 million live within 30 minutes’ drive.  Essendon Fields has been identified as a transport gateway in the Victorian Government’s Plan Melbourne 2017-2050 strategy and recognised in particular for the Airport’s expanding role, particularly with its emphasis on supporting Victoria’s airborne emergency service operations.

An illustration of the urban transformation of Essendon Fields can be judged from its economic enhancement. The owners have pursued a consistent vision to develop its commercial, retail and aviation assets over 18 years, turning its value from $22 million in 2001 to more than $1 billion today.