Footscray flip yields huge gain for Richard Gu's Kinnears Rope Factory site

Footscray flip yields huge gain for Richard Gu's Kinnears Rope Factory site
Footscray flip yields huge gain for Richard Gu's Kinnears Rope Factory site

A little-known Chinese-backed development company has bought the Melbourne development site offloaded by AXF Group property tycoon Richard Gu for around $60 million. It last officially traded at $17 million in 2007.

The ­Kinnears Rope Factory is a four-hectare site in Footscray some six kilometres west of Melbourne’s CBD.

It has been bought by a R&F Estate Pty Ltd, a company directed by Jing Lu of Riverwood in Sydney, though the major shareholder is the Glen Waverley based Australia King Eagle Investment Pty Ltd, directed by Jiandong Huang. The ultimate holding company is Australia Star Tower Development Pty Ltd.

The Ropeworks site at 124-188 Ballarat Road is bound by Kinnear Street to the north, Farnsworth Road to the east and Ballarat Road to the south. Significant buildings within the precinct including the Boiler House, Mills, and the ‘rope walk’.

The Kinnears Rope making business was established in 1874 and relocated to the site in 1902. It closed in 2002, with the property sold at $8 million.

The municipality has been pinpointed as needing to accommodate between 13,000 and 16,000 additional households by 2030, with a dwelling yield of 1,350 dwellings representing 26% of private dwellings within the suburb of Footscray, based on 2006 ABS census data.

Victorian Planning Minister Matthew Guy approved plans for around 1,500 homes in 2012 after the work by Tract Consultants.

The Australian Financial Review reports that Friday's sale was brokered by CBRE director Mark Wizel according to industry rumours, though Wizel did not provide confirmation to the paper.

The Australian Dictionary of Biography says George Kinnear migrated to Melbourne in 1864 to establish a rope plant for James Miller & Co.

He established his own Colonial Rope Works at Moonee Ponds in 1874, a small but lucrative business, specializing in lashings, clothes-lines and hayband.

The business was sold to sons Edward and Henry in 1899, for £340.

Edward had left Essendon State School at 13 to help in the business.

Trading as George Kinnear & Sons, in 1902 they transferred the works to the larger site at Footscray expanding steadily through the Kinnears' innovative and aggressive organisation and marketing, tariff protection and wartime demands.

The workforce grew to some 200 in 1915.

Kinnears expanded in 1970s when it made inroads into the carpet industry.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of our authors. Jonathan has been writing about property since the early 1980s and is editor-at-large of Property Observer.

Commercial Melbourne


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