Melbourne CBD's Palace Theatre sells for $13 million to likely Chinese developers

Melbourne CBD's Palace Theatre sells for $13 million to likely Chinese developers
Melbourne CBD's Palace Theatre sells for $13 million to likely Chinese developers

The Palace Theatre (formerly known as The Metro) has sold for $13 million to a Chinese investor in a sale that could signal the end for the historic music venue.

The 1912-built three-storey venue was sold by Ferrier Hodgson under Bankwest instructions.

The site sold in 2007 for $9.8 million and made headlines last year with plans being prepared for a 140-metre apartment tower.

In 2011, planning consultanting company Urbis reportedly met Planning Minister Matthew Guy to discuss plans for the site.

At the same time Urbis senior consultant Nick Touzeau reportedly met separately with Melbourne City Council, the National Trust and Department of Planning statutory approvals manager Adrian Salmon, all on behalf of an unnamed developer.

CBRE sales agents Mark Wizel, Josh Rutman and Scott Callow were marketing the building internationally as a prime development site.

“Sites of this size at the top end of Bourke Street are not readily available for acquisition,” Wizel said during marketing.

The venue, at 20-30 and 30A Bourke Street, was originally built as a cinema and later used as the Melbourne Revival Centre – a religious organisation.

It was infamous in the late 1990s as the Metro Nightclub but most recently it has been the site of The Palace Theatre, where artists such as Kylie Minogue, Arctic Monkeys and Death Cab for Cutie have performed. The venue has shows scheduled until December, with Refused and Primal Scream the latest additions.

The 1,442-square-metre site has 25 metres of Bourke Street frontage.

Property Observer understands the buyer is a mainland Chinese investor who  had only recently joined discussions.

There is no development approval on the site, but the new buyer is expected to lodge plans soon. Architects Elenberg Fraser are believed to be involved with the design of those plans.

Agents weren’t able to comment on the transaction.

Agent Josh Rutman says there has been an influx of large mainland Chinese buyers in Melbourne recently.

“We’ve been pretty fortunate with four significant mainland Chinese buyers over the last four months including a $40 million sale on the corner of Russell Street and Little Bourke Street,” Rutman says.

“They’re now putting their money where their mouth is and they’re picking up some high-profile sites.

“There’s no shortage of appetite even with the dollar where it is.”

Alistair Walsh

Alistair Walsh

Deutsche Welle online reporter

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