Celebrity chef Scott Pickett is the face of Melbourne’s newest suburb, YarraBend

2018-06-30

When a chef becomes the face of a property development, it’s clear the city’s love of foodie culture has gone one step further.

YarraBend puts an emphasis on technology and design, and, somewhat surprisingly, foodie culture.

When a chef becomes the face of a property development, which will create Melbourne’s newest suburb, it’s clear the city’s love of foodie culture has gone one step further.

Culinary-cred is the latest move in a strategy to build what futurists call “optimised communities”; addresses where it’s about more than just the property.

Also known as “smart cities” and “Tesla-towns”, these communities aim to pull everything together – from technology to sustainability, food to art – to become more connected and, ultimately, more pleasurable places to live.

Chef and suburb ambassador Scott Pickett Photo: Dominique Cherry

It’s what demographers have long-called “liveability”. But this latest rehash sees a heavier emphasis on technology and design, and, somewhat surprisingly, foodie culture.

It explains why Scott Pickett has been hired by developer Glenvill as a brand ambassador for master-planned community YarraBend at the site of the former Amcor paper mill at Alphington. “I think food plays such an important part in people’s lives these days,” he explains.

“You know, it’s on TV, they live it, they breathe it, there’s social media forums and Instagram, all that sort of stuff. It enhances the liveability of the area and people don’t want to always cross town.

Buyers will have access to shared facilities including a health and wellness centre. Photo: DKO Architecture

“So if you’re setting yourself up in a beautiful place like the YarraBend development, they just really want to have all of those things on hand and accessible.”

Best known for his upscale, contemporary restaurants such as Estelle in Northcote and Saint Crispin in Collingwood, Pickett says he has had conversations with Glenvill about opening an eatery at YarraBend. And his energy has also been thrown behind opening his latest restaurant, Matilda, in South Yarra.

More than anything, Pickett sees his role at YarraBend as local advocate.

It’s what demographers have long-called “liveability”.

“We live in Fairfield; we’ve been there 15 years. Our kids go to school around the corner, and I’ve seen the paper mill and the whole site for a long time before it was under redevelopment,” he says.

“When the guys approached me, they said, ‘Scotty, we think you’re Mister Northside, you’d be great’ and they talked me through the whole development.

“I actually think it’s great for the area because I want more people to live where we live because there’s such a community there in Northcote and Fairfield, and it’s a wonderful spot.

There will also be an al fresco dining area with an outlook to Artisan Park.

“I want other people to enjoy our environment and our area.”

Pickett will curate the food offerings within the 2000 square metres of retail space at YarraBend. Glenvill has promised its buyers a “farmers’ market experience” with providores and gourmet grocers.

There will also be an al fresco dining area with an outlook to Artisan Park, one of four parks at the 17-hectare Yarra riverside development.

It is estimated that 12 architectural firms will have collaborated on the design by the time of its completion. Photo: DKO Architecture

Food and entertainment forms one of six strategic focuses at the master-planned development, along with sustainability, knowledge, art and design, technology, and health and wellness.

By tapping into what it sees as the future of community living and pitching itself as a cosmopolitan gastronomy precinct, Glenvill hopes to rival global cities as the most liveable suburb.

The developer, headed by chief executive Len Warson, commissioned British-based trends forecaster The Future Laboratory to identify emerging social and economic trends to ensure the design appeals to future generations. Consumer shifts towards healthy eating and locally grown produce means YarraBend is well future-proofed, The Future Laboratory’s co-founder Martin Raymond says.

“Food quarters and artisan quarters have become hugely important in defining and measuring an area’s liveability,” Raymond says in the report.

“And usually these are found in an area that also places a high emphasis on culture, innovation, design and the entrepreneurial mindset.

“This is why cities such as Melbourne, San Francisco, Stockholm, Seattle and Toronto tend to figure concurrently and regularly on Liveable City, Creative City, Culture City and Wellness City indexes.”

There is a total of five precincts at YarraBend and the latest is The Artisan Residences, a boutique collection of 28 apartments including eight penthouses. A communal landscaped rooftop will finish it off, while select penthouses will feature private rooftops.

Buyers will have access to shared facilities including a health and wellness centre, which Glenvill sales and marketing director Ashley Bramich says includes the latest in tech advances.

“The health and wellness centre will end up being close to a $5 million investment by Glenvill,” he says.

“We’ll offer the latest in techno-gym equipment and that in itself will allow people to be able to tap into the latest technology and be able to have virtual engagement and experiences.”

Facilities include mirrors with integrated cloud-based software to assess for correct posture and technique of weight lifters.

In line with the technology, there’s also an app to connect residents, a tech concierge to fix technology glitches and a co-working space called The Hub.

YarraBend will become home to 4000 residents in 1500 new houses, townhouses and apartments. It is estimated that 12 architectural firms will have collaborated on the design by the time of its completion.

At a glance

YarraBend

Photo: DKO Architecture

Corner of Heidelberg Road and Chandler Highway, bounded by Parkview Road and Yarra River

Architect: Artisan Residences and Culinary House (Techne and DKO Architecture collaboration), The Hub (Techne)
Developer: Glenvill 
Interior design: DKO Architecture 
Number of apartments: 28: six one-bed, 13 two-bed, nine three-bed 
Internal sizes (square metres): One-bed 57.1-61.10, two-bed 81.7-97.4, three-bed 118.90-166.1 
External areas (square metres): One-bed 8.5-14, two-bed 12.4-32, three-bed 12.8-225.3 
Prices: One-bed $565,000-$599,500, two-bed $820,000-$955,000, three-bed $1.230 million-$1.995 million 
Car parking: One and two-bedrooms have one each, three-bedrooms have two 
Completion: Late 2020 
Agent: Glenvill, Malinda Martin 0458 333 074 
Open for inspection: Display suite at 16 Parkview Road, Alphington, Melbourne, open Monday-Friday noon-5pm and weekends 11am-5pm.