Life's a beach, then Coles makes splash

PRICES are down for retail assets and Coles has bagged a modern Torquay shopping centre for $14 million which it plans to redevelop as a complex with a supermarket.

PRICES are down for retail assets and Coles has bagged a modern Torquay shopping centre for $14 million which it plans to redevelop as a complex with a supermarket.

The Torquay Central Shopping Centre, between the Surf Coast Highway and the beach, about 22 kilometres from Geelong, was bought by Coles 15 months after it was mooted for sale by receivers.

The 5308-square-metre centre is on a 1.4-hectare block with 228 car spaces. It's speculated Coles will refurbish part of the centre to allow for a new 3200-square-metre-plus supermarket, taking on rival Woolworths nearby, which has monopolised the Torquay hamlet for decades.

Torquay Central was one of many assets controlled until recently by the Melbourne-based Austexx Group, now in the hands of receiver and administrator KordaMentha.

Based on the centre's annual rental return of $1.28 million, Torquay Central sold on a yield of 9.2 per cent. CBRE's Mark Wizel and Justin Dowers, with Darcy Jarman and Gross Waddell's Andrew Waddell marketed the asset.

Built on a former primary school, Torquay Central includes 38 specialty shops.

Aldi, another suitor for the site, was expected to build a smaller supermarket around the modern centre without the need to demolish part of it, which Coles will need to do.

The 98-year-old Coles business, purchased by Wesfarmers in 2007, has recently and rapidly expanded its range of products.

It has also become an active property developer, proposing mixed-use projects on sites including at the Richmond Plaza on the busy north-west corner of Bridge Road and Church Street.

The Austexx portfolio included the DFO sites in South Wharf, Essendon and Moorabbin, and Homebush in Sydney, which were sold in 2010 for $574.5 million.

Receivers also sold the Southern Cross Station DFO.

Former Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Graeme Samuel owned a 25 per cent stake in Austexx.

$60m aged care plan

A NON-PROFIT retirement and aged care service provider has paid more than $6 million for a 4.3-hectare development site in Lalor about 18 kilometres north of the CBD.

The site at 50 Gillwell Road was sold with a permit for a 132-unit, $60 million-plus aged care complex expected to start construction soon. The facility will include two and three-bedroom flats and villas, and a community centre.

Leigh Morris, manager commercial sales with Knight Frank, sold the Gillwell Road site for Sydney-based developer ABAH Group.

Next door to the planned retirement village is new housing estate, Mosaic Living, which is sold out and due for completion next year.

Mosaic will include two football ovals and other reserves, a childcare centre and piazza.

Giants look east

A COMPANY co-owned by telecommunications giant Siemens and developer Thiess has leased a large office warehouse in the eastern suburb of Burwood, for years the distribution centre for media group Gordon and Gotch.

The 50-year-old building is at 25-37 Huntingdale Road, near Highbury Road and about 15 kilometres from the city centre.

The 5600-square-metre building includes 2000 square metres of warehouse space and more than 300 car spaces.

Silcar will consolidate from three metropolitan sites, and pay starting annual rent of about $1 million to occupy the building.

Andrew O'Connell of Jones Lang LaSalle and Doug Francis of TM Consultancy negotiated the six-year lease for owner Burbury Developments. Burbury bought the asset only a couple of years ago from Queensland-based Opus Capital, which bought it a few years earlier from St Hilliers.

Since the start of the year JLL has also sold 13 industrial warehouses within the Huntingdale Road development for an average of $2200-$2500 a square metre. The warehouses ranged in size from about 150 to 300 square metres.

City shop record

A SYNDICATE of investors including one of the founders of Charter Hall, Cedric Fuchs, sold a Swanston Street shop at auction on Thursday for $2.579 million.

The sale price for 97 Swanston Street translates to a rate per square metre of $184,214 - believed to be a record for a CBD strata-titled shop, coincidentally breaking the level set in April by the neighbouring Telstra store.

A China-based buyer purchased the shop after 131 bids. The reserve was $2 million.

CBRE's Josh Rutman and Mark Wizel represented the syndicate but declined to comment about the auction when contacted by Capital Gain. The sale price translates to a yield of 4.7 per cent.

$11m restaurant site

A CITY restaurateur is paying a speculated $11 million for a 2000-square-metre retail space at the lower level of a prominent Docklands apartment building.

Dock 5, part of Lend Lease's Victoria Harbour precinct, will host the new restaurant, Infuzi, from February.

The space is undergoing a refurbishment that will convert the lower level into a swank seafood restaurant.

The upper level, according to the restaurateur, will be convention space.

The news comes after it was recently reported that 15 Docklands restaurants closed their doors in 2012.

A soulless concrete backdrop, high rents, a lack of foot traffic and a lack of marketing have been blamed for the precinct's reversal of fortune.

Just four years ago, when there were fewer apartments and residents, now struggling Docklands restaurateurs claimed they couldn't handle how busy they were.

Lend Lease's Victoria Harbour precinct - which shares the same name as the body of water in front of it - is one of Docklands' most established precincts and includes the extension of Bourke Street from the CBD - via a footbridge - at Southern Cross Station.

Lend Lease's precinct includes North Wharf Road, to be developed in the longer term with apartments and expected by some to one day carry the title as Melbourne's most expensive pile of real estate.

North Wharf Road has outstanding view-security and potential.

Dock 5 has north-facing views over Victoria Harbour, and southern views to the Yarra River. The unique 31-level, 148-unit building, was completed in late 2006.

Twitter: @marcpallisco

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