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Celebrity chef George Calombaris and his business partner George Sykiotis have shelved plans to build a restaurant on a high-profile Glen Waverley site they bought the week before Christmas in 2014 – instead selling the property to a Chinese developer this month for $2.4 million and collecting a $600,000 capital gain.
A rundown, vacant building is on the corner site at 15 Railway Parade North which spreads just 206 square metres but has great redevelopment potential being part of a proposed planning scheme amendment which would allow it to be replaced with a 10-storey structure.
The property sits at the edge of a major open-air car park beside the suburb’s train station, about 19 kilometres south-east of the Melbourne CBD.
The immediate area has been a thriving apartment development hotspot for more than five years, with demand driven largely by Chinese investors.
One house sitting at the edge of the zone, and with the potential to make way for flats, sold in 2015 for a record $6 million after increasing in value $20,000 per day for the two months the vendor held it.
Also that year, at a site within footsteps of the Calombaris holding, 100 apartments within a proposed 15-storey, 267-unit complex famously sold off-the-plan in 90 minutes. Anticipating demand, and in an unusual move, the selling agents charged prospective purchasers $2500 for the right to be at the Galleria project’s first open-for-inspection.
Also in the vicinity is the six year old Ikon tower – controversial because of its then landmark height (10 levels) and also because it replaced public land.
Late last year it was reported that shopping centre owner Vicinity was proposing to build 540 flats in towers rising up to 13 levels at The Glen shopping centre, which is also in this pocket.
Apartments might also replace suites at the nearby Novotel Glen Waverley, which a syndicate including Sydney-based hotelier Greg Shand sold to Asia-based advisory firm iProperty for $74 million two months ago. The Accor lease for the 200-room complex expires next year.
Calombaris’s recently opened Hellenic Hotel in Williamstown. Photo: Supplied
Fitzroys agents Chris Kombi and Terence Yeh, with Jones Lang LaSalle’s Damien Sweeney and Peter Sprekos, represented Mr Calombaris and Mr Sykiotis to offload the Glen Waverley holding.
The restaurateurs regularly reweight their retail property portfolios, often flipping assets to investors with a leaseback to their business, Made Establishment.
Last year the pair reopened Williamstown’s Hobsons Bay Hotel as a luxury greek restaurant. They purchased the 107-year old property for more than $3 million in 2012 before unsuccessfully lobbying the local council to allow for 300 patrons (they were permitted for 220). Their plan also failed to build a rooftop deck atop the building now known as the Hellenic Hotel. The rooftop captures postcard water and CBD views.
The Masterchef personality also sold the Brunswick East site which housed his first Hellenic Republic restaurant. This Lygon Street property exchanged for $2.4 million in 2014.
In 2012 the pair offloaded a Kew building for $4.2 million to another Chinese suitor. The Cotham Road building, in one of Melbourne’s most valuable eastern suburbs, exchanged on a yield of 5.8 per cent.