Apple looks at the eye of Melbourne's CBD

More than a decade after it was controversially halved in size, the 33-year-old City Square could be bisected again, with Apple rumoured to be eyeing off the super-prime site on the corner of Collins and Swanston streets for its Melbourne flagship store.

More than a decade after it was controversially halved in size, the 33-year-old City Square could be bisected again, with Apple rumoured to be eyeing off the super-prime site on the corner of Collins and Swanston streets for its Melbourne flagship store.

Apple's proposal is for a $35 million building that would cover 600 square metres of land and rise three to four levels. If it goes ahead the flagship shop would rise opposite the Melbourne Town Hall and be a block from Federation Square - ironically the structure some say has diminished the civic importance of City Square.

Council representatives have refused requests to confirm or deny whether the council is in discussions with Apple over the site. "The City of Melbourne is always willing to discuss opportunities that will enhance retail in the city," a spokeswoman said. "The City of Melbourne does not make commercial-in-confidence discussions public."

It is unknown whether MCC would act as Apple's landlord (potentially earning $4 million in annual rent) or sell the land to a developer. Agents estimate the market value is about $15 million for the portion required.

Apple is also said to want a car-park component, but this could not be confirmed with the company, which declined to comment when contacted.

Council compulsorily acquired then demolished several historic properties on the land that formed the City Square from the mid-1960s. Architect Denton Corker Marshall won a 1976 design competition to design the complex, which was opened by Queen Elizabeth II.

The centrepiece art feature, The Vault, dubbed The Yellow Peril by Melburnians, was relocated in 1981 following public debate.

In 2000 more than half the City Square was replaced with a mixed-use project including the Westin Hotel, shops and apartments.

The California-based technology giant has been seeking to build a landmark city store for five years but few buildings met its requirements for large column-less floor-plates and a Collins Street address and speculation has been rampant about where it could end up.

CBRE director Max Cookes said Melbourne's sophisticated retail sector has attracted other global groups including Inditex, the world's largest clothing retailer (and which owns Zara), and H&M - the second largest. Abercrombie & Fitch and Topshop also recently announced they would open stores in Melbourne.

REIV offline

Plans by the Real Estate Institute of Victoria to compete with Fairfax Media and News Ltd by creating a commercial property arm of its residential listing website seem to have crashed before gaining any real momentum.

The REIV has been accused of abandoning agency investors who last year agreed to help the website financially, allegedly seeking different sponsors by this year who might offer the institute a better financial deal and more editorial control.

Up to 40 commercial real estate agencies were said to have signed on as stakeholders for the REIV website which, agents say, is valuable only if content and listings are regularly updated. That number is now believed to be split, with many agencies saying they will refuse to provide listing and resource material for the initiative.

Some agents say the REIV has an inflated estimate of what the website is worth. The REIV was unavailable for comment.

Not long ago, the four major commercial agencies sold an underperforming commercial property website they founded.

Glass's house for sale

Glass's Information Services - publisher of the popular car-value guide - is selling a city office it has owned and occupied for 27 years.

The historic double-storey office on a 541-square-metre block at 48-50 La Trobe Street is expected to sell for about $3.6 million, according to Savills selling agents Clinton Baxter and Nick Peden.

Nearby, a similar sized property on a similar sized block at 36-40 La Trobe Street was this year listed for sale with price expectations of $12 million.

The owner famously

paid $5.1 million in 2010, relisting it for sale after obtaining a controversial permit for a 35-level, 243-unit tower.

Golf club bags $6m

A Melbourne investor has paid $6 million for the Silverwoods Golf and Lifestyle Estate, which includes a large portion of land set to make way for a residential village.

On the foreshore of Lake Mulwala in Yarrawonga, the 148-hectare parcel includes a 12-hole golf course, sealed roads and earthworks. Offered for sale was the right to develop an 18-hole golf course, and subdivide the balance of land into 950 lots. Housing options include low and medium-density dwellings.

The Silverwoods Master Plan was approved in 2006 and the land is zoned Residential 1. The block is about 275 kilometres from Melbourne. The popular tourist region is known as the sun country because of the sunshine it receives in all seasons.

Biggin & Scott's Andrew Egan and Frank Nagle marketed the estate with Knight Frank's Michael Hede and Ken Smirk.

Towers for the Bend

The 18th skyscraper has been penned for the 240-hectare Fishermans Bend precinct, Australia's largest urban infill project.

The owner of 89-103 Gladstone Street, a site also bound by Buckhurst and Montague streets, is seeking to build a 30-level tower with 163 units and ground-floor retail.

Two developers plan to fill the same inner-city block - from Montague Street to Kerr Street - with seven apartment towers of heights between 25 and 35 levels and with 1600 flats.

If projects within the Montague precinct of Fishermans Bend continue to be lodged at this pace, the area is on track to surpass Southbank in size.

Kangan comeback

Three weeks after Premier Denis Napthine announced $200 million would be reinvested into the technology and further education sector, Kangan TAFE has bought back into the trendy Cremorne pocket of Richmond.

Kangan has paid $2.6 million for an office-warehouse at 69-71 Cremorne Street - a low-rise building on a 700-square-metre block previously occupied by Dutton's and Zagame's. Kangan is expected to refurbish the building into classrooms.

GrayJohnson director Matt Hoath said at auction three other bidders contested the property, which is surrounded by Kangan-occupied buildings. He marketed the property with colleague Scott Ashby.

Last year - after then premier Ted Baillieu announced cuts to TAFE funding - a large chunk of Kangan's Cremorne facility sold to a developer for $12 million.

Excess of success

Another major office sale has taken place in Queens Road - one of Melbourne's few inner-city streets that can boast view security.

This time $21.35 million has been paid for 10 Queens Road - a 19-level, 9004-square-metre office with 159 car spaces. The vendor paid $7.5 million in 1998 for the asset, which has unobstructed vistas of Albert Park Lake and Port Phillip Bay.

Listed in February with a $20 million price expectation, Knight Frank directors Marcus Quinn and Langton McHarg sold the office shortly after the expression of interest campaign closed last month.

The new owner does not plan to convert the building to residential use - bucking the trend of many investors who have bought into the street recently.

The only other Queens Road asset offered for sale this year - a rundown office at number 14 - was purchased by developer Hallmarc in February for $13 million and is expected to be replaced with at least one residential tower.

Twitter: @marcpallisco

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