Financiers who backed ex-Melbourne Demons player Clinton Bartram are selling a development site he controls in Melbourne’s trendy Northcote as the coronavirus pandemic hits the property sector.
At the same time, insolvency specialist and receiver KordaMentha are launching a campaign to offload another large site in Keilor East owned by collapsed developer Steller.
Mr Bartram, who turned to property development after finishing his AFL career in 2012, purchased the block of former neighbourhood shops at 43-47 Simpson Street in September last year, paying a substantial $4.1 million. Agents Gray Johnson are now quoting around $3 million for the row of three former shops on a suburban street about 200 metres from Dennis railway station and nearby Westgarth Primary School.
The property was listed for auction in April, but a ban on public gatherings has thrown the real estate industry into disarray, and prompted the agency to reschedule the sale to an expression of interest campaign.
The 783 square metre site can fit a boutique building with a mix of retail, cafe and services at street level and apartments above, under a four-level permit issued by Darebin Council, selling agent Matt Hoath said.
“There’s a lot of developers putting up their hands to buy things but they’re all wanting a long settlement,” he said. However, receivers are generally unwilling to settle on long terms.
Melbourne-based Lambert Capital, run by Mark Greenberg, put a caveat on the Simpson Street site in mid-March and is listed on title documents as a main mortgage holder. A second mortgagor lodged another caveat. Mr Bartram has focused his development efforts in Northcote. He controls another apartment project, 1888northcote, at 340-342 High Street in an historic former bank building.
The Age was unable to contact Mr Bartram. Neither the phone number listed on the High Street development or its website were operational, but the developer told social media users last month construction of the project has started.
“The build is commencing now and we are anticipating a 14 month build process,” he said.
Across town, KordaMentha has appointed Colliers International’s Hamish Burgess, Joe Kairouz and Trent Hobart to sell Steller’s large 12,984 sq m townhouse block at 12-18 Craig Street through an EoI campaign closing next month.
Steller purchased the site in August 2018 for $5.5 million. It now has expectations around $6.8 million. Number12 Craig Street has a planning permit for 22 townhouses and, combined with 18 Craig Street, could potentially fit 47 townhouses.
“This is a proven and established townhouse market with recent successful development in the immediate vicinity and the overall Keilor East precinct,” Mr Kairouz said.
The slowdown and acute disruption from the Covid-19 pandemic may prove problematic for both campaigns, with uncertainty undermining interest from buyers.
But Mr Burgess said the agency was “still seeing good demand.”
“We haven’t seen too much of a slowdown in inquiries. People are taking a medium term view of the marketplace and maintaining their project pipelines,” he said.
Steller’s difficulties precede the current global coronavirus slump.
Receivers were appointed early last year. They have steadily sold off an extensive portfolio of development sites across Melbourne that Steller’s founders Nicholas Smedley and Simon Pitard amassed with funding from Asia-based financier OCP and Sydney-based Atlas Advisors.
Steller’s receivers recently re-listed the historic Continental Hotel in Sorrento after efforts by its owner, hotelier Julian Gerner who had entered into a joint venture partnership with the collapsed developer, failed to refloat the project.
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