15 March 2023

New builder engaged to replace PBS on Doma's The Melrose

| Ian Bushnell
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building site

The Melrose site in Woden will rise 16 storeys – 95 per cent of the 184 units have already been sold. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

The developer of The Melrose apartment tower in Woden has moved quickly to replace stricken PBS Building as the project’s builder and help secure future payments to subcontractors.

The collapse of the Canberra-based building company, which went into voluntary administration on 7 March, sent shock waves across the ACT, NSW and Queensland. The company was responsible for 80 sites, 24 of which were still under construction.

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Developers in Canberra have been scrambling to find replacement builders for the 11 active sites impacted here, with Elanor Investors Group signing Construction Control last week to complete the Capital Food Market in Belconnen.

Now Doma Group has signed experienced Canberra builders Bloc to take over The Melrose site on the corner of Melrose Drive and Corinna Street, one of four residential towers to be built to create a new precinct on the western edge of the Town Centre.

The Melrose will rise 16 storeys and deliver 184 units to the Town Centre and ground floor commercial tenancies.

The news will come as a relief to buyers, with the project 95 per cent sold.

residential tower

An artist’s impression of The Melrose in Woden. Photo: Doma.

Doma general manager Gavin Edgar said Bloc had spent the last week making it safe, changing over the building permits and meeting with all subcontractors and suppliers to understand their situation.

Mr Edgar said Bloc had also engaged a structural engineer to assess the works PBS had completed to ensure continuity and that necessary quality checks were undertaken before any restart.

“We are working with the administrators to terminate the PBS contract to get the project moving again and are pleased that our long-term building partner, Bloc, has been able to step in and help us get the project back on track,” he said.

“Given the number of businesses impacted by the collapse of PBS, Doma has instigated the use of a trust account for all future payments to ensure that any money paid by the developer for works completed gets paid directly to the subcontractors for this project.

“The important thing for us is to get workers back on site and restore their incomes, and we will work with Bloc to assist subcontractors wherever we can with cashflow.”

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Administrators from RSM Australia have not released the list of creditors and what they are owed but there are more than 1000 of them and debts total more than $25 million.

They will hold the first creditors’ meeting on Friday, 17 March, at the Hellenic Club in Phillip and online.

RSM Partner Jonathon Colbran said last week it would take four to six weeks before creditors would be asked to decide the future of the five PBS companies in question.

RSM will deliver a detailed creditors’ report on the outcome of their investigations into PBS’s construction arm, including recommendations, within about three to four weeks.

PBS Building’s 180-strong workforce lost their jobs but was paid out in full.

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