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Opera site sale

10 Dec 2015

Opera site sale Image

By Jack Hayes

A new dual development site in Southbank has been bought by a major hotel developer, paving the way for a landmark project in the area.

The heritage-graded Opera Australia building and its neighbour joined forces last month to list for sale the two high profile properties at 35-41 and 43-47 City Rd.

The heritage grading of the building, essentially means nothing in terms of its protection from developers or demolishment.

According to the City of Melbourne, a building can be granted a heritage grade from A to F, however if it is not included in the heritage overlay, it is ultimately defenceless.

Adam Ford from Melbourne Heritage Action (MHA) said the building was an integral piece of the City Rd landscape.

“I think it stands as obvious testament to how heritage can improve the street-level character of otherwise soul-less apartment towers,” he said.

Mr Ford said other City Rd towers were perfect examples where unprotected but graded heritage buildings had been incorporated into the new development.

“The point is we are at the mercy of developers’ good will unless there is an overlay,” he said.

Three CBRE Melbourne city sales agents represented the two owners during an International Expression of Interest campaign, which attracted more than a dozen offers from a broad range of local and offshore developers.

Agent Josh Rutman said the property represented a unique opportunity to undertake a landmark project.

“Despite some concern from the market about recent changes by the minister, the depth of offers reflected the ongoing pent up demand for well-located development sites in and around the Melbourne CBD,” Mr Rutman said.

“This significant sale marks the first major land transaction to take place since planning framework changes were introduced in the CBD and Southbank.”

Mr Rutman explained the buyer would take full advantage of the premier location, nestled between the CBD, Crown and the Royal Botanic Gardens.

“The buyer is looking to deliver a major hotel on the site, in response to the growing demand from tourists for hotel rooms and the City Of Melbourne’s objective to see more hospitality offerings in and around Melbourne,” Mr Rutman said.

“The Melbourne City Council has also made it known it would like to see more hotel rooms delivered to cater for the influx of tourists that Melbourne sees frequently during the year, so we could see more hotel developments to come.”

Opera Australia will remain in Melbourne and is now immediately on the search for a new home, although it retains a lease on the current site. The company’s ambition is to secure a larger site with more comprehensive studios for its own rehearsals, community use and commercial hire.

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