Breathing new life into Bradmill
Creating a new neighbourhood within an existing community requires deep understanding of history and context. At Bradmill Yarraville in Melbourne’s inner west, Frasers Property are determined to retain the old denim factory’s heritage, character, and local affection.
When the old Bradmill Denim Factory site in the inner west Melbourne suburb of Yarraville came up for sale in late 2021, Frasers Property Australia knew it was the perfect location for their award-winning brand of neighbourhood creation. Steeped in history and dotted with heritage buildings, there development of Bradmill would require sensitive urban renewal and considered community engagement to create both a compelling new vision for the future and a respectful honouring of its past. Sarah Bloom is Frasers Property’s General Manager Development in Victoria. Spearheading the acquisition of the site, she says that it was clear from day one that opportunities of the magnitude offered by Bradmill don’t come along every day. “The first thing that strikes you is the scale of the site,” Sarah explains. “To be able to plan a new neighbourhood across 26 hectares of land only7kms from the city is a remarkably rare thing. “The second is that it’s got this iconic kind of appearance with red brick factory buildings and boiler house quite visible as you head over the Westgate Bridge. So, people all over Melbourne know about it. There’s quite of lot affection for it and interest in what the urban renewal of it will entail.”
A Village within a village
Bradmill’s Development Director, Theo Della Bosca, is also keenly aware of the anticipation and expectation building up around the development. Having redeveloped another high-profile inner-suburban site into the thriving mixed-use neighbourhood of Burwood Brickworks in Melbourne’s east, he’s well versed in the elements of success needed for infill projects. “When you’re creating a new community inside an existing one, I think you have to be conscious to fill in the gaps that exist in that urban fabric rather than just replicate what’s already there,” says Theo. “Given the very identifiable nature of Yarraville’s village feel, we need to make sure that we’re complementary to that, yet distinctive enough for people to see Bradmill Yarraville as somewhere that enhances and builds on what makes the inner wests dynamic and desirable. “Those enhancements include providing arrange of new community spaces and facilities, neighbourhood shopping, and a smartly sustainable array of town homes and apartments designed to suit the diverse mix of singles, couples, and families, that make Yarraville home. In keeping with Frasers Property Australia’s long-held leadership in environmentally sustainable development, the Bradmill neighbourhood will be an all-electric community targeting a 6-Star Green Star Communities certification. The retained heritage buildings consisting of the iconic boiler house, proofing plant, and dye house, will be repurposed and are proposed to include a mix of commercial, creative, community and residential uses.
Stories of Bradmill
The focus on lower-impact and resilient environments is one thing. For David Mazzotta, Senior Community Development Manager on the project, it’s the social sustainability of Bradmill that will ensure it remains a beloved community for generations to come. “We’re not starting with a blank canvas here at all, “says David. “Bradmill has this really proud history as a place of work for thousands of local people over many decades. It was, at its height, a homegrown economic success story, producing fabric for major brands like King Gee. “We know from our research and speaking with second and third generation Yarravillians, that it also has a significant migrant story too. So many people’s experiences of the great Australian dream started here at Bradmill, not just in the jobs they had as dyers, machinists, and weavers but in the friends they made and the strong bonds of community that sprang up around the factory. “Thanks to the ground-breaking Stories of Bradmill project sponsored by Frasers Property, it’s a significant era of Melbourne history that will be as much a part of the project’s future as it is of the past. With the assistance of a documentarian specialising in community history, Stories of Bradmill will record and celebrate the unique history of the Bradmill site, so that it can be reflected within the new community and the restoration of the heritage precinct. “As well as engaging with former Bradmill employees, community-based organisations, and Council to record the cultural heritage of the site, we also want to speak with local residents to find out what Bradmill means to them,” says David. “If you’ve got a history with the site—whether you worked there or a friend or family member did—or you have photos or stories you’d like to contribute, we’d love to hear from you.”
For more information on Bradmill Yarraville, or to contribute to the Stories of Bradmill history project, contact Frasers Property on 13 38 38.