St Kilda cinema complex seeking popcorn loving investor or savvy developer with $2.75 million to spare

St Kilda cinema complex seeking popcorn loving investor or savvy developer with $2.75 million to spare
St Kilda cinema complex seeking popcorn loving investor or savvy developer with $2.75 million to spare

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The once popular but now vacant and silent three-screen George Cinema on Fitzroy Street in St Kilda has been listed for auction next month with price hopes in excess of $2.75 million.

The cinema was leased and operated by the Melbourne film family the Zeccolas, owners of the arthouse Palace cinema chain, from 1996 to 2010.

It opened with a bang in 1994, showing Quentin Tarantino’s cult classic Pulp Fiction in sold out showings and was successful for a number of years, before falling victim to more competition from the nearby multiplexes such as the 15-screen Cinema Nova in Carlton and 15-screen Jam Factory in South Yarra.

The Zeccolas planned to refurbish the George, but changed their minds and it closed in October 2010, with The Age reporting at the time that sessions were so sparsely attended “that the complex can resemble a ghost town”.

It has been owned by local businessman and cinema-lover Ralph Taranto since 1999, who leased it to the Zeccolas before opening it himself in March last year.

But it closed less than two weeks later.

Sadly, its second closure came just a month before the centenary of the opening of the first, purpose-built cinema in St Kilda, at what is now 145 Fitzroy Street, a few metres from the Aurora.

Perhaps a portent of its failure, Cinema Aurora opened with the Ben Affleck financial crisis piece The Company Men, a film about executives that all lose their jobs. It played the Oscar-winning The Social Network and Black Swan in its last week.

Now listed for sale, with also the opportunity to redevelop subject to council approval, the Aurora’s three separate cinemas can seat up to 820 popcorn-eating patrons on a site of 1,142 square metres over two levels and also has a foyer, newly fitted candy bar, two full-fitted projection rooms and recently refurbished toilet facilities.

It is being marketed by Graeme Wilson of Wilson Commercial, alongside colleague Nicole Scrofan.

It comes with a liquor licence for 750 patrons.

Wilson says the cinema has the potential to bring in annual income in excess of $400,000, which would equate to a yield above 14% at a price of $2.75 million.

It was previously leased at $410,000 per annum (plus outgoings and GST) but is now being offered as vacant possession.

The cinema sits within a six storey mixed used building comprising apartments, shops, a restaurant and public car park.

It stands next to local St Kilda landmark the George Hotel, is surrounded by St Kilda apartment dwellers and is well serviced by trams and buses.

Fitzroy Street is a popular night-time destination in Melbourne lined with fashionable cafes, restaurants and bars, which Wilson believes makes the cinema a viable venue.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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