The Queen Victoria Market is worth just $300,000 less than Melbourne Town Hall; an uber-green office building in Little Collins Street is valued higher than Carlton Gardens and City Square combined - and the City of Melbourne council's five most expensive assets are parks.
The City of Melbourne has become the first council in Australia to comprehensively disclose its most valuable property holdings.
At a town hall meeting last week, councillors unanimously carried a motion by councillor Stephen Mayne to reveal the value of ratepayers' 20 most valuable holdings - measured according to present use, not potential use, if rezoned or redeveloped.
Parkville's 170-hectare Royal Park is the council's highest priced asset, valued at $307.8 million. The 40-hectare Fawkner Park, in South Yarra, is the next highest - valued at $189.6 million.
On those estimates, Royal Park is valued at $1.8 million per hectare compared with the South Yarra space at $4.74 million. Public recreation areas fill out the rest of the top five positions - Fitzroy Gardens ($162.9 million or about $6.3 million per hectare), Kings Domain ($130.9 million) and Princes Park ($97.1 million).
Swanston Street's town hall is the council's most expensive building and sixth most expensive asset - valued at $81.1 million. The Queen Victoria Market is not far behind at $80.8 million. The market is earmarked for a $100 million makeover in the next couple of years.
Cr Mayne said Victoria's other 78 councils should follow suit. He said listed property trusts such as GPT, Mirvac, Stockland and Westfield published valuations every six months. Victorian councils pay for independent property valuations but generally do not release them to the public.
"Councils across Australia are very poor at making detailed disclosure about the tens of billions worth of property they own on behalf of ratepayers," Cr Mayne said.
"We also have an important cluster of buildings in the town hall precinct which together are valued at close to $180 million. This precinct should be the subject of a major redevelopment program over the next decade, especially once the Metro One Train tunnel is built with a new underground station on Swanston Street in front of the Melbourne Town Hall."
Fishermans Bend update
Another wave of skyscrapers has been unveiled for the Montague precinct of the 240-hectare Fishermans Bend development - Australia's biggest urban infill project. This time at 166-168 Buckhurst Street, plans have been lodged to replace a low-rise warehouse with a 20-level complex containing about 88 apartments.
The application is substantially smaller than proposals lodged for the next block to the east - bound by Buckhurst, Ferrars, Gladstone and Montague streets - which is mooted to include about 20 towers, some rising to about 40 levels. On this block last week, MAP Coffee founder Pitzy Folk lodged plans to replace a recently refurbished headquarters at 2-4 Buckhurst Street with two towers.
$1 billion proposal
Vicland has unveiled images of what is so far Fishermans Bend's biggest proposal - and the one likely to be developed first, possibly by the end of the year. The $1 billion-plus, four-tower complex earmarked for 60-82 Johnson Street has been released for public exhibition. Vicland's proposal includes twin tower glass skyscrapers of 53 levels, so far the tallest mooted for the precinct. Two smaller towers of about 27 and 21 levels will flank the tallest structures.
Shesh Ghale offloads
Education entrepreneur and property investor Shesh Ghale will use proceeds from the sale of a mixed-use Armadale building to complete the renovation of the Argus building in Melbourne, and a hotel in Nepal.
The two-storey asset at 1151-1155 High Street is expected to sell for between $8.5 million and $9 million, a yield of about 6 per cent.
Mr Ghale bought the asset at the peak of the 2007 property boom, paying about $9.5 million on a lower yield of 5 per cent. Mr Ghale never exploited the site's airspace redevelopment potential at the corner of exclusive Mercer Road. At present the asset includes six ground floor shops, three upstairs office suites and parking for 19 cars. MP Burke Commercial director Pat Burke and Michael Pound are the marketing agents.
Hands go up for
Windsor Post Office
More than 130 bids were made over 45 minutes for one of four subdivided pieces of the historic Prahran building which was for years the Windsor Post Office.
The renovated ground floor space, covering about 170 square metres and including the post office's former counter room, sold at auction for $1.1 million. This reflected a yield of about 4.3 per cent based on annual rent received of $47,600. Wilson Pride's Graeme Wilson and Lucas Butler were the marketing agents.
A little closer to town, architect Bruce Henderson is extending office space to the rear of the former South Yarra Post Office at 162 Toorak Road, which abuts the train line near the station.
Moonee Valley gets
backing for high-rise
Half of the Moonee Valley Racecourse will be flanked by apartment towers under ambitious new plans endorsed by the Moonee Valley City Council last week.
The Moonee Valley Racing Club has unveiled two proposed masterplans under which the northern and western-most edge of the 40-hectare site will make way for more than 20 apartment towers, mostly between three and 16 levels, and many around as-yet-unbuilt streets. Just one tower will rise 25 levels.
Under a controversial 2011 plan, which was opposed by the former planning minister and state representative Justin Madden, four towers of 25-levels would have risen from the south-west corner of the site, with much of the balance of the racecourse left untouched from commercial development. he new plan seeks to spread many more apartment buildings across much more of the site - including, importantly, the north-east corner of the race track, abutting the Tullamarine Freeway.
A major grandstand with a vertical garden will be accessed from Wilson Street, at the northern edge of the privately owned race track.
A Moonee Valley Racing Club spokesman said a proposed re-aligned track would allow races of all standard distances to be run at a world class surface and with a 32-metre wide track (as opposed to the current 24 metres).
The club spokesman said some leading trainers refused to allow their best horses to race at Moonee Valley.
"Some residential development on part of the racecourse site is the only way to generate the funds necessary to ensure the viability of the Moonee Valley racetrack," he said.
In both master plans, existing Moonee Ponds streets (Coates, Kenna, Alexandra) will be extended east of McPherson Street to a new road which will run along what is currently a north-south straight of the race track.
Under the proposal, apartment complexes will dominate the track's western and northern edge. A decision is due in December.
Submissions to a ministerial advisory committee have been received.
Melbourne City Council’s highest-valued properties
Royal Park, Parkville $307.8m
Fawkner Park, South yarra $189.6m
Fitzroy Gardens, East Melbourne $162.9m
Kings Domain $130.9m
Princes Park, Carlton North $97.1m
Melbourne Town Hall $81.1m
Queen Victoria Market $80.8m
Council House 2 $51.1m
Flagstaff Gardens $49.3m
Birrarung Marr $41.1m
Alexandra Park $31.7m
Carlton Gardens, South Carlton $36.3m
Alexandra Gardens $33.7m
Queen Victoria Gardens $32.7m
Carlton Gardens, North Carlton $29.6m
Treasury Gardens $29.4m
Carlton Baths $29.0m
Council House $25.9m
J.J. Holland Park,
City Square $19.3m