Workers Tool Up to Restart Probuild Projects

After two weeks of bleeding hundreds of thousands of dollars a day, major projects left in limbo by the sudden collapse of construction giant Probuild are slowly cranking back to life with workers returning to abandoned sites.

At least, that is, in Victoria where Sydney-based builder Roberts Co is poised to acquire much of the state’s share of Probuild’s $5-billion workbook.

The latest project set to be revived is stage two of the $1.2-billion build-to-rent Caulfield Village development, led by Beck Property Group and its consortium partners who have agreed terms with Probuild administrator Deloitte for a hand over to restart work.

Construction has been taken in-house and is expected to resume in coming days.

The continuation of the eight building, 430-apartment project adjacent to Caulfield racecourse in Melbourne’s southeast will save hundreds of jobs, including 41 former Probuild employees, who had been working on the development.

“This is a great outcome for the future of Caulfield Village,” Beck Property Group director Sam Beck said.

“We thank Deloitte for progressing this agreement so quickly because it will ensure there is total certainty about the future of this important project, which is important not only for all the workers currently on the site, but for all our partners.”

Consortium partner Reshape Development director Matthew Reszka said it was “the best possible transition for all the parties in the project”.

“We can immediately recommence construction … and over time deliver on the vision we have created for Caulfield Village as a high quality residential, mixed-use development.”

▲ Workers and sub-contractors are set to be back on the tools in coming days at the $1.2-billion build-to-rent Caulfield Village development. 

Work has already kickstarted again on biotech giant CSL’s new global headquarters—a 16-storey, 35,000sq m office and laboratory with ground floor retail on the edge of the Melbourne CBD—after developer PDG Corporation agreed to cover all legitimate unpaid claims to date and guaranteed contractor and site team payments going forward.

Tradies also have been tooling up again at Woodlink’s 15-level luxury hotel project in East Melbourne after an agreement was secured with the administrator.

Meanwhile, Far East Consortium is understood to have wrested back its four-tower, $2 billion West Side Place site on Lonsdale Street—touted as one of Victoria’s largest residential developments.

And still on the sidelines, ready to swoop in an opportunistic play to expand its footprint into Victoria, is Sydney’s Roberts Co, which is in due diligence to buy a chunk of Probuild’s Melbourne projects after entering into an in-principle agreement with Deloitte.

However, a number of major Probuild projects in other states remain idle, including Cbus Property’s riverfront 443 Queen Street project in Brisbane and Dexus’ 25 Martin Place and Greaton’s The Ribbon developments in Sydney.

Also, sub-contractors and suppliers—among at least 2300 creditors caught up in the chaos and believed to be owed millions of dollars—have been left hanging and face the prospect of being pushed to the wall.

Administrators were appointed to Probuild after its South African parent company Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon (WBHO) turned off the financial life support to its beleaguered Australian arm.

WBHO had propped up Probuild with substantial parent guarantee support that peaked at $178 million in October last year but “the risk versus reward became untenable” as it sustained mounting losses—mostly from 443 Queen Street and Melbourne’s Western Roads Upgrade project.  


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