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MAB Opens Merrifield Park

As written by Simon Johanson, published in The Age, 9 September 2015.

MAB Corporation has kicked off construction of its $1.2 billion Merrifield Business Park as it finalises negotiations for a joint venture with a major shopping centre player to roll out an 80,000-square-metre mall in the same mixed-use estate. 

The business park in MAB’s 770-hectare Merrifield project on Melbourne’s northern outskirts next to Donnybrook Road and the Hume Freeway was launched on Wednesday by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Planning Minister Richard Wynne. The 330-hectare park has 1.2 million square metres of industrial and commercial floor space. 

Listed paint maker Dulux committed in March to build a $165 million water based paint manufacturing plant on a 17-hectare anchor site. Dulux Group project manager Kevin Worrell said it would move most of its Australian water-based paint manufacturing to Merrifield, delivering ‘‘significant financial and operational benefits’’. 

Managing director Andrew Buxton said MAB was in discussions with seven other prospective manufacturers, transport and logistics firms to take another 47 hectares. MAB has also signed a joint venture with an institutional shopping centre operator for a mall on the estate larger than Eastland in Ringwood or Werribee Plaza in the west. ‘‘We’ve done a deal on 30 hectares to start developing the shopping centre,’’ he said. The group was waiting for final planning permits before announcing the partnership.

The business park is expected to support up to 11,000 jobs and another 20,000 indirect workers when complete, Essential Economics analysis suggests. ‘‘We want to have everything you’ve got in Melbourne’s east: private schools, community facilities, offices and residences,’’ Mr Buxton said. 

Much of Merrifield, a joint venture with Gibson Property Corporation, is still paddocks. However, Merrifield chief operating officer David Hall said a 330-hectare residential component, established two years ago, would have 2000 houses by 2018. When complete over the next 20 to 30 years, Merrifield will become an integrated satellite city suburb with a retail and civic centre, offices, higher-density living, about 4000 homes for 12,000 people and 380 hectares of parkland. 

Other developers, Evolve and Villawood, also have projects in the area which is expected to grow to about 250,000 people. On the other side of the Hume Highway lies Stockland’s Lockerbie Estate. 

Mr Hall said MAB’s experience at its University Hill mixed-use project in Bundoora showed there was strong interest in co-locating residential, office and industrial facilities. ‘‘Many people want to have a small business close to where they live. That’s who’s gone into our commercial spaces, strata offices at Uni Hill.’’ 

The launch of the Merrifield Business Park is timely for MAB. Its Alliance Business Park in Epping is nearing capacity with just 15 per cent of space to fill.