One of Melbourne's finest bluestone warehouses, dating from the city's earliest days, is back on the market just 12 months after being sold but not settled.
The heritage-listed Seabrook House, at 573-577 Lonsdale Street, was last offered to buyers a year ago when it was reportedly sold to a small legal firm. The Age reported that Hambros & Cahill Lawyers had bought the building six days after its auction with plans to occupy.
The firm reportedly agreed to pay $4.8 million to a group of barristers who had used it as their chambers for 28 years.
Since the purchase last year, Hambros & Cahill has been fighting the Australian Taxation Office in a separate, unrelated matter over a $4.5 million GST refund. The case, involving the two partners of H&C, Francis Cahill and Peter Hambros, is being appealed in the Federal Court.
Legal representatives of the partners told the court before the appeal that the money being sought by the ATO had been used to pay legal fees, equipment, employ staff and for a $500,000 deposit to buy Seabrook Chambers.
A $2 million loan to each director accounted for the remainder of the money, the court was told.
Following Seabrook's failure to settle, the group of 20 barristers who own it have moved to resell the property, which has been empty since its attempted purchase.
The free-standing building is on a rare "island site" fronting Lonsdale Street but with three access lanes.
Heritage Victoria lists it as architecturally significant because of its palazzo warehouse design — a style not uncommon in mid-19th century Melbourne that is typified by large windows, rusticated quoins and projecting cornices.
Inside, Seabrook has a formal reception area, about 979 square metres of lettable office space, basement with wine cellar, spa, shower and changing room, full commercial kitchen, conference rooms and a courtyard.
Selling agent is Knight Frank.