A 1920s building in Melbourne will be demolished to make way for the city’s first micro hotel, much to the disappointment of heritage groups.

The five-storey building at 124-130 Russell Street, Melbourne was built in the 1920s and has been owned by the Melbourne Theosophical Society for 45 years. Last year however, it was bought by Chinese-backed Melbourne developer Longriver Group.

The building will be demolished and replaced by a micro hotel designed by Buchan and Nikken Sekkei. The 13-level hotel will have 160 rooms, some as small as 18sqm. The hotel itself will have larger public spaces such as restaurants, a nightclub and a rooftop bar.

The Melbourne Theosophical Society building. Image: Google Maps

The development of the Melbourne’s first micro hotel has been inspired by the small hotel movement overseas, and the market demand for something similar in Australia. The development proposal also described it as “a response to the rising cost of land in large cities”.

Melbourne Heritage Action is not pleased with the decision, however. The group requested for an interim heritage overlay to be applied on the site earlier this year to protect the building from demolition while it is assessed for a heritage listing. The Future Melbourne Planning Committee’s heritage report has recommended the building for a heritage overlay as it is “representative of an interwar commercial building with an integrity that (is) relatively high”.

While Melbourne Heritage Action agrees with the decision to develop more hotels in Melbourne, the city fears that a lack of preservation will diminish the city’s character.