International investor grabs a perfect pair in Melbourne’s CBD

After almost 40 years of combined ownership, two neighbouring Melbourne CBD buildings owned by the Lewenberg family have sold at the close of a competitive sales campaign. 

The buildings are situated on the north-eastern corner of Queen and Little Lonsdale streets at the junction of the legal precinct and the city’s retail core. 

The larger of the two properties at 288 Queen Street is a prominent, six-level corner building, which comprises several ground floor retail shops, first level office space and upper level residential accommodation, including a double-storey penthouse apartment with a large terrace and sweeping views across the city.  

The second asset is the neighbouring 328 Little Lonsdale Street, which was formerly the headquarters of Arnold Bloch Leibler solicitors

CBRE’s Melbourne City Sales team of Josh RutmanMark WizelLewis Tong and Alex Brierley managed the sale campaign, via International Expressions of Interest. 

Alex Lewenberg commented on the transaction of the two buildings: “We have been office workers, residents, shoppers and landlords in these buildings for many years, and it is wonderful to see how far the city has come since we first arrived. It was time for us to move on and we couldn’t be more pleased with the result achieved. We wish the new owners well.” 

CBRE’s Josh Rutman said while there were several offers put forward for the properties individually, the successful offer was from a developer for the combined holding. The sale price reflected an approximate square metre rate of $35,000 – a record for the precinct. 

“This transaction highlights that buyers are taking a longer-term view on the Melbourne CBD market, and whilst there are some clear challenges at present for high density development, the fundamentals remain strong when you consider the growth in daily population, office vacancy rates and tourism growth,” Mr Rutman said.

“Private and institutional developers continue to seek CBD sites, particularly those capable of amalgamation into a larger land holding that would be better suited for the current planning regime. Demonstrating this, a number of major developers have all made substantial land acquisitions in the past 12 months with a view of delivering major office and mixed-use towers.” 

Over the past 12 months, there has been a significant level of sales activity within Melbourne’s western precinct, with 20 freehold commercial transactions, including 277 William Street for $93.88 million and 601 Bourke Street for $72.3 million, both to international investors. 

Mr Wizel said the recent level of activity highlighted the market’s resilience and the sustained appetite from international investors. 

“Several long-term CBD owners are reviewing their portfolios, especially those that are dealing with challenges such as land tax hikes and generational changes within their own families. Prices still remain at all-time highs and this has presented a significant opportunity for those that are considering the disposal of their holdings in the first quarter of 2019.”