Capital Gain

No mobile phone at Crazy John's site

No mobile phone at Crazy John's site

The first of two skyscrapers has been unveiled for the Southbank site, which in 2004 late Crazy John founder John Ilhan wanted to replace with a radical high-rise in the shape of a mobile phone.

The high-end 52-level Platinum complex earmarked for 245-263 City Road, near the corner of Kings Way, will accommodate one of the world's largest vertical gardens, rising some eight levels above ground level retail space.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy approved a proposed 170-metre structure on Christmas Eve, 2010, despite a height limit restricting buildings in the area to 100 metres.

A second tower of 46-levels was also approved for a portion of the land, owned by developer Salvo Property Group since 2008. Some 800 flats are earmarked to replace the property, until recently Crazy John's headquarters.

Mr Ilhan's proposal was for a 34-level, 110-metre tower that would have included 166 flats and an office headquarters for the company that he founded in Brunswick in 1991.

The pre-smartphone design, which was never lodged with council, was speculated to include numbers etched into the building's facade, as well as an "end" and "send" button, and a rooftop antenna. Mr Ilhan hoped the proposal would become a "monument" for his multibillion business.

However, seven months after he died suddenly in 2007, aged 42, Mr Ilhan's wife, Patricia, sold the 245-267 City Road site for $10.5 million. It is understood Mrs Ilhan may be at Platinum's launch later this month.

The first tower, Platinum, is earmarked for 245-263 City Road. A second tower is on the books for the rest of the site.

Ex-green wedge on rise

Values of former green wedge zoned land, recently gazetted by Mr Guy for development, are starting to surge as builders align their medium and long-term property stocks.

A developer from China and another from the Middle East were among bidders for a 50-hectare parcel in Browns Road, Werribee, which has the potential to be developed as a $250 million-plus housing estate.

John Castran, director with agency John H. Castran said while major development site sales are usually struck on terms of 12-24 months, the local residential developer that bought Browns Road will settle in just 120 days. The land sold for more than $4 million. It would be worth more than $20 million if it were ready for development today, according to Mr Castran.

The farm is part of 7000 hectares around metropolitan Melbourne added last year to the urban growth boundary by Mr Guy. Still zoned for agriculture, the Werribee block is expected to be formalised for development within 10 years.

The rezone is part of the state government's controversial "logical inclusions" policy also affecting former green wedge zoned land in council areas of Casey, Hume, Whittlesea and Wyndham.

Often referred to as Melbourne's lungs, green wedge land was set aside more than 30 years ago "to conserve rural activities and significant natural features".

Until the Baillieu-Napthine state government was elected in 2010, the policy had bipartisan political support.

Ingredients for deal

Global business Davis Food Ingredients has leased almost 2500 square metres of a new office warehouse in Dandenong South.

It is understood to be paying about $90 per square metre per annum, at the Bessemer Drive site developed by Elite Property Group.

Knight Frank agent Nick Gysberts negotiated the lease before the completion of the building. Davis Food Ingredients also operates from China, Indonesia and New Zealand.

Ivy climbs for reshape

Plans are afoot to redevelop a prominent city property owned for 20 years by music promoter Glenn Wheatley and his brother-in-law, former Richmond Football Club president Clinton Casey.

The landmark Metcalfe & Co building - for years also known as The Ivy nightclub at 145 Flinders Lane, on the south-east corner of Russell Street, may be extended by four levels.

The glass addition is slated for airspace atop the heritage-protected, four-level, red-brick office building, completed in 1901. The building survived a big fire in 1976, and in 1989 it underwent a flash renovation costing $3 million.

A West Australian investor paid $7.5 million for the asset in 2010.

The capital city 1 zoned land occupies a 300-square-metre block.

On the opposite side of Flinders Lane at 42-44 Russell Street the Church of Scientology's former long-time home is being redeveloped as a boutique hotel.

Like father, like ...

When one considers what Australia's richest person, Gina Rinehart, created from a fraction of the money and opportunity bequeathed her, it's no surprise more ageing male executives are arranging to hand control of the family business to their daughters.

Self-made multimillionaire Mario Salvo has appointed his daughter, Christina, to a senior position with the family's development empire, Salvo Property Group.

The Mandarin-speaking Ms Salvo helped build her father's Europcar company from "100 bombs" to an enterprise with 7000 cars by 2004, when Mario sold his interest for $40 million to focus on development.

Residential apartments constructed by Salvo carry a value of more than $1 billion. Christina, who has established and still owns other businesses, is director of sales and marketing with SPG.

Earlier this year it was reported Michelle Saade, daughter of restaurateur turned developer George, and also the owner of two restaurants, is involved in doubling the family empire's apartment stock to $400 million.

So's $4m pizza

It will be the end of one era - and the start of another in Melbourne hospitality with interests associated with former lord mayor John So paying a speculated $4 million for a restaurant owner-occupied for 40 years by Pizza Napoli.

The 122 Russell Street building, near the Collins Street intersection and Chinatown, is expected to be refitted as a high-end restaurant, the next in a stable for Mr So who returned full-time to hospitality after retiring as lord mayor in 2008.

Pizza Napoli's founders paid $155,000 for the historic double-storey building on a 158 square metre block in the early 1970s.

Then proprietor Jim Ursini quit popular Italian restaurant Pellegrini's to open the bistro with brother Carlo in 1962. Since 2004, Carlo ran it with son, Anthony.

Alexander Robertson's Kristian Peatling declined to comment about the off-market sale when contacted.

So, 67, was unavailable. He is a partner at the Dragon Boat Group, which owns several city and suburban restaurants.

Once voted the world's most popular lord mayor, So presided over a number of commercial developments including the uber-green government building, Council House 2, and a refurbishment of Melbourne Central.


Twitter: @marcpallisco

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