Caydon, TFE Hotels, to open Vibe at Melbourne’s former Fletcher Jones site in April

The 24 level building being developed last year.

The historic Melbourne CBD building occupied by Fletcher Jones from 1955 until it went into administration nine years ago is set to reopen as a Vibe hotel in April after being topped with a 24-level tower.

Owner Caydon Property Group as part of a consortium including Singapore backed TFE Hotels – Vibe’s operator – paid $18 million in 2016 for the 1873 Cobden building, a development site, at 1-5 Queen Street.

On the north west corner of Flinders Street and with view security opposite Flinders Street Station and the Yarra River, the high profile 746 square metre site was controversially permitted to make way for a multi-level apartment building in 2013.

Instead, the owners reworked the approved tower shell into a hotel with 206 suites, meeting space, a pool and gym.

The heritage part of the site has been tenanted to restaurant St Marks Road Co. eatery.

The facility will be Melbourne’s tenth Vibe inn.

TFE Hotels feels the vibe in Australia

It has been a busy few months for TFE Hotels (Toga Far East Hotels) – which last October opened Vibe Darling Harbour.

At 319-325 Sussex Street in the Sydney CBD, that was the operator’s fourth hotel in that city.

Over the next two years Vibe’s development pipeline includes venues in Adelaide, Hobart and Melbourne.

TFE Hotels’ International Hotel Company (IHC) operates in Australia, Denmark, Germany, Hungary and New Zealand.

Other marques under the company’s umbrella include Adina Hotels, Travelodge Hotels, Rendezvous Hotels and TFE Collections.

A sixth brand is set to be launched in Australia this year, TFE Hotels’ recently appointed chief executive officer, Antony Ritch, said upon confirming the launch date of 1-5 Queen Street, Melbourne, today.

Cobden Building sales history

The Caydon/TFE Hotels syndicate acquired 1-5 Queen Street from Creative Wealth (Aust), which paid $11 million in late 2012.

Creative Wealth (Aust) pushed through the redevelopment proposal, which was considered controversial because it cast a shadow over the Yarra River banks.

Creative Wealth (Aust) also rented out the double storey 1500 sqm Cobden Building to streetwear clothing and accessories Culture Kings (which has since relocated to the graffiti covered Hosier Lane).

The Queen Street property had been occupied until 2012 by Fletcher Jones which went into administration in late 2011.

Fletcher Jones owned the building from 1955 until that company sold to Pelaco in 1993.

The private investor who assumed ownership at that time sold it to Creative Wealth (Aust) following a public campaign managed by Savills’ Clinton Baxter and Nick Peden which yielded 11 formal offers.

Cobden Building as many Melburnians will remember it from 1955, when it was owner occupied by Fletcher Jones.

Vibe just the latest new hotel coming to Melbourne

Last August, we reported that Riverlee would open Australia’s first pet-friendly hotel as part of its Seafarers development at Northbank, just west of the city, between Southbank and Docklands.

Due for completion in 2022, this 280-suite five star venue will also be the country’s first to trade as 1Hotel – a company operated by SH Hotels & Resorts, an affiliate of hotel and private investment firm Starwood Capital Group.

Melbourne’s first Hyatt Centric is earmarked to open next year.

At 9-27 Downie Street, this $105 million, 28-level, 278 room hotel is being developed by Little Projects, the building company started by former Toll Group head, philanthropist, Paul Little.

Elsewhere in the city, we reported 10 months ago that Singaporean businessman Michael Kum secured Hilton Hotels & Resorts to occupy a 244-suite complex rising above and behind the historic Equity Chambers building at 472-478 Bourke Street.

In October, 2018, SP Setia started construction of a $565 million, two-tower mixed use complex, with a hotel, to replace a former Telstra exchange at 308 Exhibition Street, at the northern tip of the Melbourne CBD.

Also in the Melbourne CBD, in 2018, InterContinental Hotel Group’s high-end voco brand committed to occupy a hotel, part of the Brady Group’s 380 Lonsdale Street building, opposite Melbourne Central while St Regis confirmed it would open in Australia from a complex earmarked at Flinders Bank at the south west corner of Flinders and Spencer streets.

Quincy, a brand of TFE Hotels, is also set to operate a 30-level, 241 suite facility under construction on a 344 sqm block at 33 King Street.

In a fund-through deal two years ago, the developer of this hotel, BPM Group, sold the unbuilt asset to Indian father and son Kapil and Rahul Bhathia for $91.3 million.

BPM, with joint venture partner, private investor, John Knowles, also won permission in recent years to build a 34-level, 130-room hotel on a 170 sqm block at 9-11 Exploration Lane.

The Cobden Building (marked in images, above and below) relative to the Yarra River and Flinders Street Station.

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Marc Pallisco

A freelance property analyst and journalist, Marc is a co-founder of realestatesource.com.au.

Marc Pallisco