Ingrid Fuary-WagnerReporter

Apr 6, 2020 – 5.42pm

The founder of luxury skincare brand Aesop and innovative Canberra developer Molonglo have formed an unlikely partnership to develop housing around the world.

The joint venture, known as Nine Buildings, is between Dennis Paphitis, who founded Aesop in 1987, and Molonglo, a renowned family-run Canberra group that developed NewActon, an award-winning mixed-use lakeside precinct.

Aesop founder Dennis Paphitis has teamed up with developer Molonglo. James Braund

The joint venture partners said Nine Buildings hoped to leave a legacy through the creation of a series of “modest residential prototypes” over a defined period of 11 years, proposing “new ways to value domestic space” that challenged the prevailing quality of residential developments around the world.

Their newest project will be developed on the site of Brunswick Market, a 3000sq m land holding they recently acquired in the gritty Melbourne suburb for $17 million.

The Brunswick property, which has four street frontages, is located on Sydney Road, the longest shopping strip in the Southern Hemisphere, and is close to Anstey railway station.

The Brunswick Market, a fresh meat and vegetable market that has been operating since the 1950s, was purchased from the market’s owner and operator, who is nearing retirement.

Apartment site: Brunswick Market. 

Other tenancies on the site include a cobbler, hairdresser, two-dollar shop, second-hand store, mobile and computer repair shop and takeaway food stores.

Nine Buildings will begin work on the masterplan this year and will then work with tenants to transition them into the new development.

The site, which is zoned Commercial 1 to encourage mixed-use precincts and higher-density residential centres, has a preferred development height of about seven storeys.

Already under way is the the joint venture’s first apartment project on nearby Albert Street in Brunswick.

Working with Swiss architect Peter Märkli, the project will require the clever use of space given the site is just 276sq m. Nevertheless, the aim is to provide residents with generous and comfortable living spaces by focusing on “undervalued attributes” such as air, light and texture.

The sale of Brunswick Market, which was handled by Jesse Radisich and Nick Peden from Savills, and Cameron Elliott from Blount Osborne Walsh, represents the suburb’s largest development site transaction in almost five years.

Nectar Efkarpidis, one of the directors of Molonglo, is passionate about good quality and creative developments. 

“This major transaction is a huge vote of confidence for Brunswick, and Melbourne’s inner north generally,” Mr Radisich said.

“It is undoubtedly a sign that developers are willing to compete aggressively and pay a premium for sites that offer that scarcity factor along with significant upside.”