Iconic Morwell



THE largest commercial development in the Latrobe Valley since the Mid Valley shopping centre 50 years ago, tipped to have a final economic value up to $800 million and provide more than 3250 direct and indirect jobs, will be built in Morwell.

The 100-hectare Icon Industrial Park in Morwell will be the largest industrial estate in Gippsland.

It is being developed by a former Hazelwood power station electrical engineer, John Alom, through his company Homeington Building Group, and marketed by Morwell’s Rennie Property Sales and national property group Colliers.

The estate, now empty paddocks, is bordered by the Princes Highway, Alexanders Road and the Bega Dairy plant, and is next to the Australian Paper rail line. The land was previously the location of the proposed Morwell food manufacturing precinct, which has now been rebadged as Icon.

Stage 1, a 10-hectare targeted as a mixed-use commercial and retail centre, has been released to the market. The estate also includes two acres set aside for a petrol station and expansive parkland.

Mr Alom told the Express that the estate was aimed at warehousing, storage and logistics companies, manufacturers and big commercial players like Costco.

Integral to the project is $10 million from the state government that will be spent on infrastructure such as a roundabout giving access to the precinct. A delay in providing the money, promised by the state government, was attacked by Morwell MP Martin Cameron in Parliament in May.

Mr Alom previously worked at the Hazelwood power station as an engineer in power system and control, looking after the heating and cooling system. He left Hazelwood in 2006 and became a private developer. He is currently developing a 32-acre subdivision at Officer with 79 lots.

Mr Alom, who bought the land about 18 months ago, acknowledged a sentimental factor in his Morwell project, as he wants to help the local community. However, he emphasised the industrial estate was a major economic development for the Valley, its location in Morwell at the centre of the Valley making it a strategic project.

“It will be able to service the surrounding towns,” said Rennie saleswoman Mary Ioannou.

Ms Ioannou said Gippsland’s refurbished rail line and Morwell’s upgraded railway station made the town more accessible for travellers and potential investors.

The 100ha estate consists of 80 subdivision lots that will be released in six stages. The lots vary in size from 1000 square metres to 20,000 per square metre. The developer will be responsible for building the roads in the estate.

The stage one industrial land release comprises 14 lots sized between 1012/sqm to 19,672/sqm, with prices ranging from $137/sqm to $385/sqm.

Six lots have already been sold: Lots 13 and 14, both 1959m2 for $548,520 ($280/sqm); and Lots 20 and 24, both 1054m2 for $316,200 ($300/sqm).

Mr Alom said sales had mostly been to investors, but he expected total investment of stage 1, when the lots were fully developed, would total about $100 million. He said the cost of building was increasing and the ample, cheaper Morwell land made the estate attractive to Melbourne operators.

Real estate veteran Peter Rennie estimated that total development of the estate, when completed, would approach $800 million.

Mr Rennie has run his own company for 18 years, having started in real estate in the Valley with Keith Williams 50 years ago.

Latrobe City Council said it was “thrilled” at the government’s $10 million funding for the estate that was confirmed in the state budget. The project was then known as the Latrobe City Food Manufacturing Precinct.

Council had redesignated the huge site for future food manufacturing, and lodged a detailed submission to the government requesting the $10 million in funding. It welcomed the prospect of ongoing jobs at a time of lost power industry jobs and the proposed closure of the Yallourn power station in 2028.

Colliers associate director, Sam Hibbins, said Icon Morwell offered a wide range of industrial lot sizes suited to various industry types.

“We expect strong interest from both small, mid and large-scale occupiers and investors,” he said.

“Morwell is the commercial centre of the City Of Latrobe, but has been starved of new industrial development, and this estate will cater for the increased activity from major projects centred on the Latrobe Valley.”

Colliers associate director, Luke Lowden, said interest in the estate to date had come from local occupiers and broader national occupiers, plus investors seeking to cement their position in the South East’s newest industrial estate.

“With substantial land price escalation in core South Eastern industrial locations, businesses and investor are seeking opportunities in growth markets,” he said.

The state government has made a record investment of almost $2 billion and contributed more than 4000 additional jobs to the Latrobe Valley’s workforce since 2014.

“We’re investing $10 million to support the enabling infrastructure needed to unlock land for development and encourage more manufacturing businesses to set up or expand in the Latrobe Valley – creating hundreds of local jobs,” a state government spokesperson said.

“We’re getting on with the planning required to ensure delivery of a high quality, modern industrial development capable of supporting a wide range of industries and jobs.”