As council endorses its latest plans to reinvigorate Bridge Mall, one of the larger properties fronting both Little Bridge Street and the mall itself has come onto the market.
The retail premises at 9-11 Little Bridge Street, currently vacant, is an example of a property owned by an investor (in this case Melbourne-based) who is getting older and wants to realise their asset, says vendor agent Colliers International.
The building, which sits on four titles, is a redeveloped site, and was originally a series of single-storey premises, including a pawnbroker, in the late Nineteenth Century. These were soon replaced by double-storey businesses - Yeoman's Stores and Reed Chemists were two. All are long demolished, and the current property boasts a combined floor space of almost 1000 metres square, with two 15-metre frontages.
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It may be the first of a number of properties which come up for sale, as a slack tenancy market sees building owners cash in on the bricks and mortar value instead, says Colliers International executive Lauchlan Waddell.
"The market has been evolving this way over the past couple of years," he says.
"This owner is getting on in age, wants to retire, and doesn't really need the building. It's a little bit of a different situation. Some of the owners in Bridge Mall are investors, but a lot of the properties are owned by people who've once run a business there.
"They've since retired and held onto their asset thinking it would be a good benefit for their retirement. It's unfortunate that conditions down there have deteriorated and they're not getting tenants. It makes sense in an ideal world: if you operated a business out of a property for a long time, and you retire, you try to get someone who will give it a breath of fresh air and give you a little income.
"But cash rates are low, and some businesses are opting to buy their own properties rather than lease. Unfortunately for some people with assets, tenants aren't as readily available as perhaps they once were."
Mr Waddell says the site would benefit from redevelopment, and could be converted to a taller building if height limits, planning regulations and zoning were considered. The current limit is 10.5 metres or three storeys but, Mr Waddell says, a developer could easily go to five storeys on the footprint if planning allowed.
"Council is in a great position to make the planning changes and allow the market to naturally evolve," he says.
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