The Victorian Police Association’s former offices and clubrooms, built in the 1960s behind the old Russell Street police station, on the CBD’s north-eastern fringe, is on the market for the first time in almost 30 years.
The history of its most recent transactions tells a tale about the boom and bust property cycles that Melbourne regularly trades through.
Records show the property sold after auction in 1989 for a healthy $4.12 million, but the recession that we had to have in the early 1990s knocked out its owner. The property’s mortgagee sold it for $1.17 million five years later, in 1994.
This year’s price is expected to be around $40 million – purely for land, not its office space. The two buildings on the site, covering 2800 square metres, are on a 1013 sq m of land at 41-45 Mackenzie Street, in the north-east corner of the CBD.
Zoning allows for a development of up to 40 levels and, given its proximity to RMIT University, student accommodation developers are expected to dominate the bidding.
The vendor, Mackenzie Square Developments – controlled by doctors Sam Beitner and Lucy Platt and now solely owned by the latter – attempted several futile schemes to add levels to the property, or turn it into a hotel. It is now surrounded by towers.
JLL agents Josh Rutman, Nick Peden and Mingxuan Li are handling expressions of interest.
Another CBD building that last sold at the top of the market in the late 1980s is also up for grabs.
The three-level shop at 157-159 Swanston Street changed hands in 1988 for a bumper $6 million. It is in a prized position between Little Collins and Bourke streets.
The 502 sq m property includes two ground-floor shops, leased to EzyMart and Rozzis, which return $524,160 a year in rent. It is on a 211 sq m piece of land and includes valuable rear frontage to Masons Lane.
The property is one of only six Swanston Street freeholds to come to market in the past 10 years. Just two have changed hands since 2018.
JLL’s Peden, Rutman and Li are also selling the property, and it is expected to fetch about $14 million.
Elsewhere in the CBD, two levels of 55 Exhibition Street have come up for sale.
Levels four and five have been owned by the principals behind business consultancy, the Bevington Group, since 2005. They are selling the vacant level five, and level four, with a four-year lease back to the business consulting group.
The seven-level building has an interesting history. It was built in the 1920s as a club for architects, engineers and surveyors and turned into the Playbox Theatre in 1977.
The building was destroyed by fire in 1984, with the theatre company moving to the Malthouse, in South Melbourne.
Keeping the facade, Black Inc. publisher Morry Schwartz then embarked on one of his earliest developments and rebuilt the office floors. They were later subdivided and sold.
Half the building is owned by property developer Salta, which also owns the building next door, at No.63 Exhibition. Plans to develop that site as a hotel-apartment tower were shelved a few years ago, and the tower was put up for sale. It did not hit its expected $80 million price tag and was withdrawn from the market.
Records show Salta has paid various prices for offices in No.55 Exhibition: $5.1 million for the ground floor/level one in 2019; $3.3 million for the penthouse in 2020 and $3 million for level 2 in 2018.
Commonwealth Superannuation, which owns the blue-chip office behind, at 101 Collins Street, made a strategic play in 2019, paying a record $4.75 million for level three, in a bid to keep control of the views from 101’s upper floors.
Expectations for levels four and five are in the mid-$2 millions for each 255 sq m office – not quite the 2019 price levels, but records show they were purchased for $860,000 each in 2005.
MMJ Real Estate’s Steven Messina and Joel Wald have the listing.
A Chinese food import-export company has emerged as the buyer of a warehouse in the heart of Nunawading’s golden mile strip.
Records show Shancheng Industrial Holdings – controlled by Qingdao Shancheng Food Co. – recently settled on the $13.75 million purchase of 2-6 Moncrief Road.
The 3334 sq m building is on a 6300 sq m land parcel off Whitehorse Road. It is leased to luxury auto repair business Charlie Battisti, and a furniture company.
The combined rent of $388,624 a year gives the deal a yield of 2.8 per cent.
GrayJohnson agents Matt Hoath and Brett Simpson negotiated the sale.
In the suburban industrial market, a combination of a lack of space and the potential for future redevelopment is driving up demand and prices.
Records show veteran property investor Heine Brothers has snapped up the Oakleigh digs of listed taxi company A2B Australia for $8 million.
The 2012 sq m property at 35 Downing Street is on a large 5733 sq m site on the railway line, near Oakleigh station and the busy Eaton Mall.
A2B chairman Mark Bayliss said the company is planning to enter into a two-year lease back of the property while it decides what to do about its long-term property needs. It also recently sold two properties in Alexandria, in New South Wales, for $97 million.
Suburban retail space in Sydney is tighter than Melbourne, and fetching record prices.
The deal was negotiated by Colliers agents Jonathon Mercuri and Daniel Telling, who declined to comment.
There will be plenty of interest in the result of the sale of 88 Ricketts Road, Mount Waverley – now leased to BlueScope Distribution – which is expected to fetch around $20 million.
Close to the Monash Freeway interchange, the property is in the Monash technology precinct and close to a station on the future Suburban Rail Loop.
There are two buildings on the 1.8 hectare site: a 6045 sq m warehouse and a 4165 sqm office that was purpose-built in the late 1980s for Canon.
The office is mostly leased to BlueScope, while the rear warehouse is mostly leased to the Melbourne Unique Badminton Centre. Its lease includes a demolition clause.
Records show the site was bought by Chinese investor Yi Xuan International in 2016 for $16 million.
Fitzroys’ Paul Burns and Chris James are marketing the property, which is close to several business parks including Ferntree Business Park, Axxess Corporate Park, Nexus Corporate Park, and 211 Wellington Road Mulgrave.
“The expansive site area allows developers the flexibility to deliver a new commercial building or premier business park in whole or in stages,” Burns said.
“There are a number of occupiers who have or are likely to need alternative accommodation due to the Suburban Rail Loop. There will be land compulsorily acquired for its construction.”
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