CBD hotel closes doors, converts to apartments
ACCOR'S Sebel Hotel at 398 Collins Street closed its doors on Saturday and in three weeks its 150 apartments will return to the control of 119 individual owners in a reversion-conversion the owners corporation manager has described as "fast and a first".
The hotel chain had held a 12-year lease on the apartments and suites within the heritage-listed 1876 former bank building but owners corporation manager Alf Musumeci, of L.R.Reed, said as the lease drew to a close the 119 owners, who had been part of an income-pooling agreement via the hotel's lease, felt they "weren't getting the returns they'd hoped for" and decided to regain control of their individual apartments.
Mr Musumeci said he now had until early March to install "separate electricity meters, water meters and letterboxes" to allow for individual occupation, sale or leasing. Early indications were about 75 per cent of the apartments would be listed for rental, he said.
Apartments range from about 40 square metres to 80 sq m, with most in the 50-60 sq m range, he said.
The largest are in the eight-level original bank building, with smaller apartments in a back annexe that has seven levels of apartments, with five on each level.
The ground level of the building, which contains the gracious double-height original bank foyer, is home to the Treasury bar and restaurant, which also will close. A new tenant is being sought and Savills Australia's associate director of retail services Michael di Carlo said his firm had begun marketing, receiving "strong interest from well-known Melbourne operators".
The heritage-listed building, on the corner of Queen and Collins streets, also represents something of a landmark in the ups and downs of Melbourne's city apartment market. Bought by Walker Corporation in 1997 with plans for 84 apartments, it hit the late-1990s residential downturn and was sold on to Australand who completed the conversion to 150 apartments that were then leased to Accor and operated as the Sebel Hotel.
But, since the owners agreed to the 12-year lease with Accor, demand for central-Melbourne apartments has soared with the city's residential population more than trebling since 2001.
Mr Musumeci said all the apartments, which range from studio style to two-bedrooms, had kitchens or kitchenettes and had been well maintained by the hotel chain. Rents would begin at about $380 a week and many would be leased out furnished with the former hotel's furnishing.