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Coburg drive-in will keep pictures rolling after new owners are found

September 14, 2018

The Coburg drive-in is one of only three in the state. Photo: Supplied

One of Melbourne’s last-remaining drive-in cinemas is set to keep pictures rolling for some time after new owners are found.

The historic 53-year-old Coburg drive-in has been put on the market, with Village Cinemas to lease the property back from the buyer for at least the next decade. The sales comes with a price guide of $11 million.

The cinema is one of the largest remaining drive-ins in the country and one of only three left in Melbourne.

The famous venue is 11 kilometres north of the Melbourne CBD on an 8.1-hectare property that according to the marketing advertisement also comes with a “multitude of future redevelopment options”.

Village Cinemas Australia pays annual net rent of $597,000 with fixed annual 3 per cent increases.

JLL Australia is managing the sale, and regional director head of capital markets industrial and logistics Tony Iuliano said it was a unique opportunity to own a piece of Melbourne’s history.

“It’s an iconic Melbourne institution,” Mr Iuliano said. “It has serviced people for 50 years and will service them for many years to come.”

But he said given the future potential of the site developers would be among the mix of interested buyers.

“The underlying land value is equal to if not worth more than the purchase price.”

The 8-hectare site has been a drive-in for decades. Photo: Supplied The 8-hectare site has been a drive-in for decades. Photo: Supplied

The site features three 33 metre-wide screens, with audio picked up through car radios. There is also a retro-style diner providing dinner and snacks to cinema buffs, while a food truck festival sets up shop monthly.

The iconic cinema was opened in 1965, with an Alfred Hitchcock film the first showing, and acquired by Hoyts two years later. The venue was closed in 1984 but reopened three years later in partnership between Hoyts and Village Cinemas, with a second screen added.

It comes with its own restaurant and cafe. Photo: Supplied It comes with its own retro diner and cafe. Photo: Supplied

The third screen was added in 1995, and the Coburg site is now one of the largest drive-in cinemas in Australia.

Drive-in cinemas were a national past-time in the 1950s and ’60s and enjoyed widespread popularity. At their peak there were about 60 drive-ins in Melbourne, but now only three remain. The site in Coburg is the only one in Melbourne’s north, with others in Dromana and Dandenong.

The Coburg drive-in was added to the Victorian Heritage Register in 2007.

“The Coburg drive-in is significant as a rare surviving example of a drive-in cinema,” the Heritage Council of Victoria said. “[It] is of historical significance as a reflection of the mid-twentieth century rise of the influence of the car on Victorian society and culture.”


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