Site that gave sore eyes to get a salve

Ten months after being told it "wasted a once-in-a-100-year building boom" by an angry council, US-based Reading Cinemas has listed for sale the former Moonee Ponds market site which it bought 15 years ago with the intention of rebuilding as a landmark entertainment complex but has left dilapidated.

Ten months after being told it "wasted a once-in-a-100-year building boom" by an angry council, US-based Reading Cinemas has listed for sale the former Moonee Ponds market site which it bought 15 years ago with the intention of rebuilding as a landmark entertainment complex but has left dilapidated.

The 1.34-hectare site, currently an open-air car park, is being offered with plans (but no permit) for a mixed-use village with three apartment towers, the tallest rising about 26 levels, a record height for the suburb.

With six street frontages and opposite the Moonee Ponds railway station, the site is expected to sell for about $25 million.

The land was permitted in 1997 to become a 12-screen cinema complex - a proposal so large that rival Hoyts, which operated from the nearby Highpoint Shopping Centre in Maribyrnong, went to court to prevent it being built.

Since that time Reading has proposed several redevelopments. In its 2009 annual report Reading proposed a $30 million, four-level entertainment complex with 7500 square metres of retail space and two levels of underground car parking.

However, last August, after not receiving an application, the Moonee Valley Council made the unusual decision to publicly demand Reading sell the site. Councillor Jim Cusack said at the time the community was "all the poorer for having lost its much-loved market", which was "swapped for a hole in the ground".

The former market is near the Puckle Street retail strip - considered the heart of Moonee Ponds, one of the highest valued suburbs west of the Maribyrnong River. The suburb was identified in the former state government's Melbourne 2030 planning policy as an Activity Centre and has in the past 20 years attracted major office tenants and boutiques.

Reading's proposal includes two smaller apartment towers of about 18 and 14 levels, which would rise with the tallest tower above lower level retail. Colliers International's Peter Bremner, Shane Dargue and Jeremy Gruzewski are representing Reading with CBRE's Justin Clarkson, Scott Orchard and Ari Petrovs.

Before Reading, the market was owned by Adamco, a developer since rebranded Hallmarc. Last week it was incorrectly reported Hallmarc was buying a nearby Moonee Ponds site at 20 Park Street.

Harveys off the menu

The South Yarra restaurant that for 17 years until recently traded as Harveys has sold to a residential developer and is expected to make way for a $70 million high-end apartment complex.

The historic property at 10 Murphy Street and an adjoining block of land on Darling Street sold off market for a speculated $6.5 million after failing to sell with another agency for most of last year.

Paul Castran, of Castran Gilbert, confirmed the sale when contacted.

The block spreads over 1300 square metres and is located within the less-congested part of the suburb, west of the train station and closer to Punt Road than to Chapel Street. It is next door to the exclusive Lyall Hotel.

The historic building which houses Harveys is expected to be razed for the new complex, which could rise up to six levels.

CBD site snapped up

Just 24 hours was all it took for a historic four-level building at the top of town to sell this week.

The 113 Lonsdale Street building, occupied as bars, restaurants and cafes, returns annual rent of about $127,000, and sold for $2.8 million, reflecting a yield of about 4.5 per cent.

Situated within the Chinatown precinct, the 460-square-metre retail building is on a 141-square-metre block. The tenant is locked in for five years with three five-year options.

Savills directors Clinton Baxter and Nick Peden said the property sold to a local private investor with other city holdings. Mr Baxter said several inspections were undertaken in a short period.

"The speed of this sale clearly demonstrates the determination of buyers to secure prime CBD investment freeholds," he said.

Platinum proves gold

Almost half the 435 apartments proposed in the exclusive Southbank complex, Platinum, sold before the official launch at Vue De Monde on Thursday.

From the restaurant on the 55th level of the Rialto, invitees glanced directly into airspace that will soon be filled with the 52-level Platinum tower.

The penthouse level will include a sky lounge, gymnasium, spa, sauna and 15-metre lap pool. It is one of two skyscrapers developer Salvo Property Group has earmarked for the former Crazy John's headquarters on the corner of City Road and Clarke Street. The two towers will be SPG's tallest.

Director Mario Salvo said he would donate $1000 from the sale of each apartment to the Ilhan Foundation.

Crazy John's stayed on as tenant after selling the site to Salvo but moved a couple of years ago after the office was flooded.

Not far from Platinum, Planning Minister Matthew Guy recently approved a 72-level, 238-metre skyscraper for a small site almost abutting the West Gate Freeway at 54-56 Clarke Street.

Truganina childcare

Melbourne-based property giant ISPT is selling a block of land with a permit for a 120-place childcare centre, part of its Forsyth Park housing estate in burgeoning Truganina.

The 3350-square-metre site, which is next door to a proposed medical centre and close to Westbourne Grammar School, is expected to sell for about $1.5 million. On completion, Forsyth Park will include about 500 homes.

Recent changes to childcare regulations, increases in daily fees and the limited number of new centres being developed are reasons the fast-growing property sector is popular with investors, according to Dominic Gibson, director with new agency Melbourne Acquisitions. Mr Gibson is representing ISPT with Oliver Hume's Robbie Demian.

$13m Braybrook sale

The western suburbs' Braybrook Shopping Centre sold this week to a local family for $13 million.

The 9600-square-metre neighbourhood complex, anchored by a Woolworths supermarket and specialty shops, was offered with about 6000 square metres of vacant space which had until recently been occupied by Clive Peeters and Spotlight.

With redevelopment and extension potential, Braybrook Shopping Centre is spread over 2.5 hectares at the busy corner of Ballarat Road and Ashley Street, about nine kilometres from the CBD. Developed in 1998, the shopping centre includes 368 car parks.

According to Mark Wizel, director with CBRE, the asset has the potential to earn annual rent of about $1.67 million without extending the floor space. Colleague Justin Dowers says buyers looked at the substantial vacant space as an opportunity - "as if it was a retail development site with walls".

He said that, despite the vacancy, there was a growing number of national retailers looking to expand and that Braybrook had been attractive for these tenants from a leasing perspective. Woolworths-backed Masters chose Braybrook to open its first store on Ballarat Road in September 2011.

Mr Dowers said perceived stability in the retail market along with low interest rates contributed to investor demand for the Braybrook complex, which sold on a low yield of 3.4 per cent.

Twitter: @marcpallisco

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