Equiset Grollo to make its mark on Collins St

The developer responsible for what has been dubbed Melbourne's thinnest skyscraper has applied to Planning Minister Matthew Guy to replace a historic shop on a 483-square-metre block in Collins Street with a landmark 54-level tower.

The developer responsible for what has been dubbed Melbourne's thinnest skyscraper has applied to Planning Minister Matthew Guy to replace a historic shop on a 483-square-metre block in Collins Street with a landmark 54-level tower.

Equiset Grollo, directed by Lorenz Grollo, is planning to redevelop the Makers Mark building at 464 Collins Street with a 194-metre mixed-use tower estimated to have an end value of more than $200 million.

The proposed building will include 37 levels allocated as residential and fitted with 185 apartments. Almost 3000 square metres of office space will occupy a further 13 levels of the building. Sources expect these will be strata titled on a "per floor" basis, but this could not be confirmed. The ground level will be fitted as retail.

Just 70 car parks are proposed for the project. Given its size the project needs to be reviewed by Mr Guy.

The proposed tower is opposite the Rialto towers, built by the Grollo family in the 1980s. The tallest Rialto tower is 63 levels.

Equiset Grollo paid $10.5 million for the Makers Mark building seven months ago.

A little further east of the site, Equiset Grollo is replacing the former Phoenix nightclub at 82 Flinders Street with a thin 28-level apartment tower. The site is 163 square metres.

Not far from Makers Mark, the Stamoulis family is replacing a 1214-square-metre block at 568 Collins Street with a 68-level residential tower.

Plans for ex-Age site

Developer Far East Consortium is reportedly negotiating to buy a 1.1-hectare portion of the former site of The Age in Spencer Street for about $76 million.

The sale includes permits for six residential skyscrapers between 39 and 63 storeys. The valuable permits were only recently granted to vendor ISPT by Mr Guy.

A couple of years ago vendor ISPT sold a portion of the Spencer Street site to Central Equity for $17 million. Central Equity is now proposing two skyscrapers for that piece.

Medical group moving

Philanthropic business identities behind a not-for-profit medical association are selling their outgoing premises in Hawthorn East.

The National Institute of Integrated Medicine (NIIM) is directed by, among others, Village Roadshow executive director and chairman Robert Kirby, property developers Michael Drapac and Adam Garrison, Melbourne City councillor Beverley Pinder and Anne Kantor of the Murdoch family.

NIIM conducts research into integrative therapies and has worked on adjunctive treatments for cancer. It also studies food supplements.

NIIM recently paid $5.8 million for a 2128-square-metre office in Hawthorn, for 28 years owned by Bowls Victoria and known as Bowler's House.

The association's outgoing historic property at 759 Burwood Road includes 800 square metres of internal area and sits on a 1322-square-metre block with redevelopment potential. NIIM bought it in 2008.

The Hawthorn East property has 23 metres of frontage to Burwood Road, according to CBRE director Scott Orchard, who is representing NIIM with Mark Wizel and Jellis Craig's Andrew Macmillan and Steven Abbott. It is expected to sell for around $2.7 million.

Spencer St apartments

An offshore builder has outmuscled locals for an inner-city showroom that was expected to be sold to an investor who would have retained its use as retail.

The two-level former Valiant Hire building at 617-643 Spencer Street sits on a 1620-square-metre block between Abbotsford and Hawke streets in West Melbourne. Despite being attached to other showrooms to one side, the section that was sold (with 61 metres frontage to Spencer Street) will be refitted and extended to create a medium-density apartment building that will rise only a few levels - in line with local height restrictions

The $4.1 million sale to a Beijing-based developer continues a trend of Asian investors buying into Melbourne's CBD recently, according to Vinci Carbone director Joseph Carbone, who sold the asset with Frank


Late last year a Malaysian developer paid $15.1 million for a 1029-square-metre development site at 398-406 Elizabeth Street. Another Malaysian investor paid $11 million for the former Fletcher Jones showroom at 1 Queen Street, a site also expected to become a residential building. Last month a Malaysian investor paid $6 million for a two-storey car park in Flinders Lane.

China-based developer Hengyi is refitting and extending a long-dormant office at 199 William Street with a 500-plus-unit apartment complex.

Humble now valuable

In the mid-1960s when Anthony Innovations was established near the corner of Keon Parade and Dalton Road in Thomastown, its site - and the dozens of blocks around it - were farms.

Now the suburb has been swallowed into the Melbourne metropolis, Anthony's humble corner is one of the busiest - and most valuable - in the north.

The company that manufactures motion devices for the building industry is selling after 47 years, in a deal expected to reap the owner-occupier about $4 million. Anthony Innovations occupies part of 7000 square metres of offices and warehouses built on the 1.4-hectare block.

Selling agent Robert Butera of Butera & Company expects other owner-occupiers to entertain the property, as well as developers and investors. He said Anthony's would commit to a lease-back on about a third of the office space it currently occupies.

Fully leased, the asset has the potential to earn annual rent of about $478,000.

About 17 kilometres north of town, Thomastown is close to an important freeway interchange connecting the Hume Freeway to the Metropolitan Ring Road and Western Ring Road - which provides access to the airport and seaport.

Docklands payoff

Digital Harbour Holdings - a development firm part controlled by the Liberman family specifically for its 4.4-hectare Docklands pile - is reaping the rewards of reconfiguring an office building during the recent economic downturn.

The group has made $8.3 million in four months from the sale of about 18 strata units, configured as serviced apartments and office suites. When Life.Lab was first proposed a few years ago, units in the building at 190 Harbour Esplanade were earmarked for small home-office suites.

The residential units were sold on yields of about 7 per cent while commercial suites were sold between 6 and 6.5 per cent, according to Paul Lachal of Elan Property Group, who represented Digital Harbour Holdings.

Knight Frank's Tim Grant sold the strata units.

Digital Harbour Holdings earlier this year applied to replace its Docklands precinct, at the north-west tip of the CBD, north of Etihad Stadium, with a much denser proposal than mooted when the area was master-planned with other parts of Docklands in the 1990s.

Earlier this week Mr Guy approved the first of the proposed towers, a 21-level office to be known as 1000 La Trobe Street. The office will include about 33,000 square metres of high-end space.


Twitter: @marcpallisco

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