Golden Age appoints new builder after Probuild collapse

Melbourne-based developer Golden Age Group has appointed Roberts Co as the new builder for its office project at 130 Little Collins Street after Probuild’s Australia-wide operations collapsed earlier this year.

Roberts Co, a Sydney-based private contractor, had agreed with the directors to take over five of Probuild’s Victorian projects worth over $1.6 billion and hire 150 Probuild staff as permanent employees .

The 28-story Little Collins Street tower with 49 office suites, three retail units and a ground-floor restaurant designed by Cox Architecture was not included in the original deal.

The building’s formwork subcontractor closed following the collapse of Probuild, leading to the repricing of the entire project.

With demolition now complete, construction on the project is expected to resume this month.

Golden Age chief executive Jeff Xu said Roberts Co’s involvement was good news for everyone involved with the project, with the site handover expected this week.

“We started Roberts Co five years ago with a mission to build a better track and we are delighted to continue this through to Victoria, including work on 130 Little Collins, as part of the acquisition of Probuild “said Roberts Co general manager Alison Mirams.

The project, which is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2024, will create 343 jobs.

The design of the building is a collaboration between Cox Architecture, designers Hecker Guthrie and landscape architect Jack Merlo. Developers say the project is 70% sold, largely to owner-occupiers.

Golden Age picked up the 651m² site and existing building in mid-2019 for $40.5m, gaining approval for the new plans about a year later. Property financier Maxcap is investing $132m in the Little Collins Street project despite the sharp drop in office occupancy being felt in the city post-Covid.

The sudden collapse of Probuild sent shockwaves through the construction industry and drove a string of medium-sized contractors to the wall. It was placed in administration after its parent company, the South African company Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon (WBHO), stopped financially supporting the builder.

The WBHO blamed the collapse on Australia’s tough Covid-19 restrictions and the Foreign Investment Review Board’s decision to block the sale of the business to China State Construction Engineering Corporation for $300 million.