HIGH-rise apartment towers could dominate Flemington racecourse under a plan by the Victoria Racing Club to sell surplus land to help fund racing improvements.
The VRC has signed a memorandum of understanding with one of China's biggest developers to build housing on two parcels of land at Flemington.
One is the 3ha Hill Land Precinct near the Showgrounds while the other is a 1.05ha site on Epsom Rd near the VRC offices and the Quest hotel on the corner of Epsom and Smithfield roads.
VRC CEO David Courtney said the money from the land sale would help pay for Flemington's master plan, which includes building a new grand stand.
Mr Courtney said the club would have no role in developing the sites, but he understood the project would involve medium to high density housing.
"(But) we want to have a say in what goes up at Epsom Rd and also the Hill precinct so we want to make sure it's visually appealing and in keeping with the area and the Flemington brand," he said.
Mr Courtney said there was a precedent for high rise towers in the area, with approval given to a 22-storey development across the road from the racecourse.
But the sale of the land to developer Greenland Holding Group will have to be approved by the Federal Government's Foreign Investment Review Board.
Mr Courtney said that the VRC had spoken to several local and international developers about the project, but had decided that the Chinese company was the most suitable based on its offer and financial standing.
He declined to disclose the sale price for the land.
Greenland managing director Sherwood Luo said it would be the firm's first Melbourne development.
"The location of the parcels of land, close to Melbourne's CBD in such a lively suburb as
Flemington makes the area ideal for a development that will contribute considerably to the community and to the precinct," he said.
VRC chairman Michael Burn said that negotiations with the developer over the next few months would include analysis of impacts on cultural heritage, transport, flora and fauna.