Swann House, Melbourne listed with hotel and residential conversion potential

Swann House, Melbourne listed with hotel and residential conversion potential
Swann House, Melbourne listed with hotel and residential conversion potential

Swann House, the ornate 10 storey office block at 22 William Street, Melbourne, has been listed for sale.

Offers close 25 July with Klinger Wood agent Eugene Wood who says he is anticipating around $20 million for the uniquely styled building on the corner of William Street and Flinders Lane. 

Swann House has a gross building area of 7,000 square metres with a net building area of 5,700 square metres.

Its floor plates equal around 550 square metre.

The building is about 90% leased reflecting $1,328,000 net income, rising to $1,461,000 on a fully let basis.

The site area is 826 square metre with frontages of 34 metres to William Street and 24 metres to Flinders Lane, set one block and about 100 metres from Collins Street.

It is currently 14 commercial strata lots, including Private Media, publisher of Property Observer.

The building takes the form of a large but simplified modern commercial palazzo form with restrained Greek revival detailing.

The architectural historian, Robin Boyd described the completed building in the seminal text, Victoria Modern, as being `remarkably simple’.

The top two additional matching floors were added to the building in 1948-1949. 

It was built in 1921 as the headquarters of the newly constituted State Electricity Commission of Victoria which was created by an Act of Parliament with Sir John Monash as its chairman.

The Commission undertook the development of brown coal deposits near Morwell, the construction of the first of a series of steam-powered generators and the high voltage power lines required to bring electricity to the city of Melbourne.

It was designed by AR La Gerche, who was architect to the Commission from 1920 until his retirement in 1938.

In addition to the William Street Headquarters, La Gerche also designed the Yallourn township and the later now-demolished Electricity Commission buildings on Flinders Street.

It ranks among one of a small number of 20th century multi-storey government offices erected in the pre-World War Two era.

While the William Street building provided the usual clerical, administrative and engineering office areas, it was unique in also housing the central control room of the Commission's power production pool.

Data relating to generation and regulation was fed to the control room by land and radio lines and staff on duty would continuously regulate voltage, carry out system switching procedures, locate and rectify faults throughout the generating facilities, transmission lines, stations and substations that comprised the power production pool. 

Kliger Wood director Eugene Wood says the CBD market is bereft of quality investment grade opportunities with the upside offered by 22 William Street.

Last traded 24 years ago, Swann House holds a Capital City 1 zoning.

“From a development perspective the building lends itself to a potential hotel or as residential (STCA) which would have unencumbered views to the south towards the Yarra and the Southbank and Crown precinct."

He noted the neighbouring building below Swann House was the historic and significantly protected low rise, the Immigration Museum.

Melbourne's founder John Batman's house was on the Swann House site, which no doubt would headline the marketing for any residential or hotel redevelopment in the future.

Commercial Melbourne

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