Boutique developer CostaFox has acquired Geelong’s iconic Stella Maris Convent Mansion for $11.3 million.

The 1.2 hectare waterfront property in Rippleside, previously owned by Catholic charity MacKillop Family Services, is home to the old National Trust-registered mansion, formerly known as St Helens.

Costafox said it plans to retain the mansion and reposition the site as part of a new residential scheme, involving prestige homes and apartments, that will take advantage of the surrounding vacant land.

The Melbourne-based developer, put together by developer Michael Fox and backed by wealthy investor Robert Costa, has enlisted architecture firm Rothelowman to oversee its forthcoming proposal for the site.

“Geelong has been on our radar for some time given the Costa family’s strong ties to the area, but we needed a site that allowed us to showcase our high end offerings,” CostaFox managing director Michael Fox said.

“We believe Geelong will continue its enormous recent growth and still offered a great alternative to escalating Melbourne prices.”

Geelong, located about 75 kilometres south-west of Melbourne, has experienced a surge in capital growth, jumping between 7 and 10 per cent in the past six months.

Improved working from home capabilities and lower base prices have also driven the exodus from Melbourne to less densely populated areas within commuting distance of the capitals.

“Working from home is now a much more accepted lifestyle choice and buyers would be able to live waterfront at affordable prices compared to Melbourne,” Fox said.

“[Our future development] will have uninterrupted, commanding views over Corio Bay and back to the Geelong CBD and is also surrounded by parkland.”

The region's good road and rail links to Melbourne are a big attraction for buyers who range from first-timers and young families seeking a change in lifestyle through to retirees.

CostaFox was established when Fox parted ways with former development partner Paul Little six years ago, with whom he had established Little Projects.

Last year, the developer acquired South Melbourne’s landmark Tea House building for $28 million where it has plans to redevelop the ageing building into a new commercial scheme.

It also offloaded a prime Footscray business park to listed data centre group NextDC in a $21.8 million deal.