The Block Port Melbourne - awash with soapy renovation series setting whispers

The Block Port Melbourne - awash with soapy renovation series setting whispers
The Block Port Melbourne - awash with soapy renovation series setting whispers

There's whispers a heritage art deco factory in Port Melbourne will be the venue of the next series of Channel 9's popular reality show, The Block.

The Block's producers are believed to have snapped up the imposing, heritage protected building at 164 Ingles Street from the BRW rich-lister Harry Stamoulis.

The $5 million deal follows its marketing late last year. The listing website suggests the property is under offer. 

There had been rumours the one 2016 Block may have found a former icecream factory for its setting.

The Block's contestants will have to cope with heritage-building related restrictions next time around.

 

But the pinpointed Port Melbourne building is part of the former Velvet soap factory site of J Kitchen & Co which became Unilever.

It was constructed in the 1920s as the factory's administration office.

The building, with a stepped-back main entrance, was among a larger holding purchased by Stamoulis for $25 million in 2013, with around 280 townhouses now under construction on the surrounding former Symex chemical factory site opposite the Port Melbourne Cricket Oval.

Estate agent Walter Occhiuto from Dawkins Occhiuto has the building as being under "contract" on its website.

The marketing campaign focused on the building's development potential for office or hotel accommodation. It was marketed as an outstanding building of 2355 sqm. It sits on a 1155 sqm block.

J Kitchen & Sons commenced trading in Port Melbourne in the 1850s making such products as Velvet Soap and Electrine Candles from the tallow and other animal fats from the nearby slaughter yards. In the decades the company became Kitchen & Lever then Unilever and most recently Unichema. 

But back in the second half of the 1920s, into the 1930s, the company produced a journal called Advance.

The Port Melbourne Historical & Preservation Society (PMHPS) have several editions in their collection.

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The Block Port Melbourne - awash with soapy renovation series setting whispers

 

Advance Vol 2 No 7 from July 1925 featured their new Administration Offices saying '... the firm may well claim to have built one of the most up-to-date block of offices in the Commonwealth, combining loftiness, dignity and stability'.

Inside the main entrance the vestibule has a 'mosaic floor in a shining pattern, having the monogram of J Kitchen & Sons worked into the centre".


Click to enlarge

The Block Port Melbourne - awash with soapy renovation series setting whispers 

Interior fittings were of the highest order with doors built of 'polished maple and plate glass'.

The second floor contained a 'spacious hall for social purposes designed to accomodate 700 people' with a kauri dance floor.

The following edition of Advance in October 1925 included this photo of the opening of the Social Hall.

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The Block Port Melbourne - awash with soapy renovation series setting whispers

The company Social Club appears to have been very active with a library containing over 600 volumes, a tennis club, cricket club and football club who on the King's Birthday took on another great Port Melbourne company, the biscuit-makers Swallow and Ariel, at the Port Melbourne football ground.

The Block's last season saw contestants renovating the Hotel Saville, an octagonal building on the corner of busy Commercial and Punt roads in South Yarra.

The last series, won by Newcastle’s Dean and Shay, averaged 1.048 million viewers across its run.

Dean and Shay collected $755,000 when their penthouse apartment sold for $2.3 million.

Nine has revealed that the makers of The Block are yet to purchase a building for the next series.

The 2016 series of The Block won’t screen until the last quarter of this year. 

 

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.

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The Block Renovations

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