A former factory in Sydney’s Leichhardt that once manufactured iconic Australian toys could come close to toppling the suburb record for the sale of a development site, when expressions of interest close later this month.
The property at 40-76 William Street was once home to the Cyclops Toy Factory, famous for manufacturing the popular children’s tricycle, as well as various other pedal cars and scooters.
Agent Scott Timbrell, of Knight Frank Parramatta, said he was expecting offers for the 6957-square-metre site in the range of $40 million to $50 million based on current feedback from potential buyers.
Development sites in what Mr Timbrell said was a “very tightly held” suburb have proven popular with developers in recent years, as longtime industrial landlords cashed in on the demand for new apartments.
Chinese developer Changfa Investments set what appears to be the Leichhardt record for a development site during the residential property boom in 2017, paying about $55 million for a former industrial site that had been rezoned for apartment development at 141 Allen Street.
An analysis of Domain Group data shows that the next highest price for a development site in the suburb was set by another Chinese developer, Greenland, in 2014 when it purchased the former Kolotex site for $47.1 million.
The 1.01-hectare site has now been converted into a new 224-apartment development, Leichhardt Green, which was completed last year.
The William Street site is no stranger to the residential development craze either. Half of the Cyclops Factory – under a separate owner – has already been converted into boutique residential apartments.
The overall suburb sale record of $153.2 million was set by GPT’s sale of Norton Plaza shopping centre earlier this year.
Mr Timbrell said interest in the William Street site, currently leased to a self-storage provider, had been from a mix of residential and commercial developers, with a potential office conversion also an option considering the hot city fringe office market.
“We’ve had every single type of different buyer from commercial investors to residential, to self-storage to alternative housing options,” he said.
The site, a combination of four different land titles, had been held by the same family for more than 10 years.
“Land lots like this in the inner west don’t come up very often.”
Mr Timbrell said buyers had been particularly attracted to the aesthetic features of the factory, which has three street frontages.
“It’s got a similar feel to a Surry Hills or New York loft-style conversion. It’s a very cool, very unique and substantial-sized site in the inner west. It’s generated substantial interest and we’ve had a lot of inspections of the property,” he said.
40-76 Williams Street is for sale by expressions of interest closing September 24.
Buyers seeking a smaller development may also find what they’re looking for a few streets away, with a former liquor shop at 8 Elswick Street back on the market under instructions of the mortgagee.
Selling agent Tony Iskandar, principal of First National Commercial Iskandar, said the 223-square-metre property had price expectations of $1 million.
“It could potentially be a coffee shop, shop and home-residence maybe, or a small business – all subject to council approval. The zoning is residential zoning,” Mr Iskandar said.
Mr Iskandar said once existing-use rights expired for former commercial properties that had been rezoned to residential in the inner west, it was very difficult to revert them to former use – helping the trend toward residential development in the area.
“I know certain streets have become a lot more residential. Once you use your existing usage for those factories, they just don’t want it to keep going on,” he said, adding, “It’s all about the community and the neighbours. If the neighbours allow it to be commercial, it could be.”
8 Elswick Street is set to go under the hammer on October 5.
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