Doctors in the house on Wellington Parade

End of an era: Mowbray students protesting at Parliament when their school closed.THE Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has paid about $25 million for a prominent East Melbourne office – for years the headquarters of utilities company Melbourne Water.
Nanjing Night Net

The college, Australia’s largest professional general practice organisation representing some 21,000 members, will own and occupy four levels of the six-level building as its national office.

At 100 Wellington Parade, opposite Yarra Park and the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the former Melbourne Water building will now be known as RACGP College House.

The 6500 square-metre office, with 102 car parks, is much larger than the four-level South Melbourne office at 1-7 Palmerston Crescent that the college occupied for 17 years, but sold last week for $9 million.

The college, which represents urban and rural general practitioners, will lease part of the East Melbourne building.

Jones Lang LaSalle director Richard Norman says just one level of the building is available for rent at $285 per square metre, per annum.

Property enthusiasts with longer memories may remember the East Melbourne asset was once controlled by the Heine Brothers empire, which was considered one of Australia’s largest steel exporters.

More recently the building was leased to Melbourne Water, which in 2010 announced a move to more modern new headquarters in Docklands.

Melbourne Water made headlines in June when, because of an administration error, its clients were overcharged more than $300 million. Melbourne Water has quietly been selling development sites across metropolitan Melbourne for years.

Mowbray’s site deficit

ADMINISTRATORS for defunct western suburb private college Mowbray are likely to recover just half of the school’s $18 million debts from the sale of its three campuses.

In a complicated sale campaign in which value will depend on potential land use, particularly if the sites can be rebuilt as residential projects, the three school campuses are thought to be worth a total of about $9 million.

The largest school, the 17.75 hectare Patterson campus in Melton, is expected to sell for about $6 million. Two smaller campuses in Caroline Springs, including the 1.25 hectare residential 1-zoned town centre campus at 183-191 Caroline Springs Boulevard, and the 1.06 hectare Brookside campus at Federation Way, are likely to each reap about $1.5 million.

The Caroline Springs campuses are the most suitable for medium-density residential redevelopment.

Private schools seeking an avenue into the growing western suburbs market might view the Melton campus as a chance to buy at below cost price.

CBRE and Fitzroys are representing administrator Deloitte Australia in marketing the sites.

Stationer on Collins

WESFARMERS-owned stationery chain Officeworks will pay annual rent of about $450,000 to occupy a 650-square-metre shop with a wide 18-metre street-frontage at 461 Bourke Street.

Officeworks has signed a five-year lease to occupy what were two adjoining CBD retail spaces trading until recently as a restaurant/bar and hairdressing salon. At the ground floor of the 43-year old, 19-level office known for years as Dalgety House, Officeworks has agreed to fixed annual rent increases of 3.5 per cent until 2017, when it has an option to renew for another five years.

Kliger Wood agent Russell Meerkin said Officeworks already operated a number of CBD stationery outlets, but this location would place them very centrally in the insurance, legal and business precinct.

AV outsources sales

REVERSING a decision it made five years ago when the land sale market was more buoyant, developer AVJennings has again outsourced its sale and marketing division.

In 2010, the 80-year old company sold its building arm to leading Japan-based home builder Sekisui, and earlier this month it announced a $29.5 million annual loss for the last financial year.

It has appointed local agency RPM Real Estate to market blocks within all of its Victorian estates.

AVJennings controls a diversified Victorian portfolio, which includes a land subdivision at Portarlington, near Geelong.

It also controls large parcels of land in the major growth areas of Epping, in outer-northern Melbourne, and Officer, about 50 kilometres from the CBD in the outer south-east near Clyde North, which is expected to become an important new township under plans announced late last year by the Baillieu government.

Site fit for royalty

FOUR months after buying a dozen properties from the Melbourne-based Viento Property Trust, Sydney-based Denison Funds Management has listed for sale one of that portfolio’s largest and most versatile properties at 14 Queens Road, in an area identified as Melbourne, but with the postcode 3004.

The 1970s brown brick building, known for years until 2009 as Atari House, sits on a large 2327-square-metre site opposite Albert Park Lake, about two kilometres south of the CBD. Rising 13 levels, and with 8158 square metres to let and 120 car parks, the asset is about 75 per cent leased.

In recent years, residential developers including Evolve Development, part-backed by former Fairfax chairman Ron Walker, have targeted Queens Road sites because of the postcard views apartments can offer of the lake and Port Phillip Bay.

MP Burke Commercial director Pat Burke, who is representing Denison with former colleague Leigh Melbourne from Colliers International, says 14 Queens Road also offers CBD views to the north that can never be built out. The asset sale is expected to boost Denison’s coffers by about $15 million, which it will use to reduce the fund’s debt.

Evolve recently demolished the former single-storey luxury Suntory restaurant at 74 Queens Road, renowned throughout the 1980s for its picturesque gardens and its cuisine, and is rebuilding the block as Monarc, a 13-level predominantly glass apartment tower with 228-apartments.

Living on a cloud

LOCAL developer Piccolo is the buyer of the prominent former Electrical Trades Union building in Carlton.

At 516-520 Swanston Street, on the south-east corner of Queensberry Street, the site is now set to make way for Upper House, a 17-level, 110-unit residential complex designed by Jackson Clements Burrows Architects.

The $50 million Upper House complex will be divided into two parts: the Podium (comprising the lower levels) and the Cloud (upper levels). Between them, and appearing to occupy an entire level, will be a common area fitted with a gymnasium, indoor and outdoor lounge and dining areas and an observatory deck. One-bedroom apartments, being marketed by Colliers International, start at $380,000.

Piccolo is believed to have paid about $5 million for the former ETU building, which is across the road from the former Carlton & United Brewery site that another local developer, Grocon, bought from RMIT University for $39 million in 2006. Grocon, which has recently been seeking equity partners for many of its projects, is proposing to rebuild the Carlton site as a mixed-use village.

Piccolo, whose development focus has centred on corner blocks in Carlton, is also responsible for the $50 million low-rise low-density called the Garden House complex at 85 Rathdowne Street opposite Carlton Gardens.

The ETU recently relocated to another owner-occupied office at 200 Arden Street in North Melbourne.

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