Abacus sells half stake in St Kilda Road office

Artist’s impression of the permitted 464 St Kilda Road office.
The VACC’s replacement headquarters, at 650 Victoria Street, North Melbourne.

Abacus Property Group has offloaded its half interest in 464 St Kilda Road – the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce 60 year headquarters – to the other co-owner, Wing Tai.

The deal was struck at $49.4 million, a small premium to book value.

It comes three months since the partners obtained a permit to replace the existing eight storey 1960s Bernard Evans designed office with another that responds to the original – and add seven levels on top of it (artist’s impression, right).

Abacus and Wing Tai paid the VACC $95.4m for 464 St Kilda Rd, also known as VACC House, on a 4645 sqm block, in 2018.

The motoring giant relocated to another owner-occupied asset in the North Melbourne pocket of Arden.

Onto other things

Abacus managing director Steven Sewell said “it is pleasing to see the disposal of this non-core asset with proceeds to be invested back into our key sectors of commercial and self storage”.

The group has been one of the more active investors during the COVID environment – amassing a major portfolio of Storage King backed investments in various deals.

Last May it paid a KKR affiliate $103.5m – book value – for the 60 per cent interest it didn’t control of The Oasis Centre, in Broadbeach, on the Gold Coast.

Abacus has also increased its exposure to CBD offices – including last quarter, when it picked up the 11 level 77 Castlereagh Street, in Sydney, from Blackstone for $250m (story continues below).

The ex-VACC House (outlined), on a 4645 square metre block.

Twelve months ago, Abacus partnered with Charter Hall, paying $63.5m for a 19 storey Brisbane commercial building at 241 Adelaide St.

In that deal the buyer acquired the leasehold from Australian Unity (for $31.5m – book value), while paying the Brisbane Club the balance for the freehold.

Latest St Kilda Road deal

The VACC House deal is the latest in the tree-lined commercial precinct which runs several kilometres south from Flinders Street station.

Last December, Barwon Investment Partners, for its Healthcare Property Fund, outlaid $75m for #607, near St Kilda Junction.

Not long earlier, Sydney group Parekh Developments spent $25m on an 1804 sqm block at #596 which for decades accommodated an art deco apartment complex, Cliveden.

Alfred Health was a surprise purchaser – forking out $31m for another art deco residential building at #545 with plans for a six floor research hub, the Victorian Melanoma and Clinical Trials Centre.

The same group recently rented the entire ex-Seek headquarters, at nearby #541, as well.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of realestatesource.com.au.