Charter Hall sells Australia’s first skyscraper

Orica House, formerly ICI House, was Australia’s first skyscraper.

Charter Hall has sold Orica House – Australia’s first skyscraper – seven months after it hit the market.

The 19 level office at 1 Nicholson Street, East Melbourne, which when completed in 1958 rose 84 metres, more than double Melbourne’s then (40.2m) height precedent, is trading for $155 million to Harry Stamoulis who is concurrently selling Woolworths’ Mulgrave distribution centre for what is speculated to be a similar value, to Elanor Investors Group.

Hub occupies the top floor of 1 Nicholson Street – once a cafeteria.

The Orica House result reflects a small drop on the c$170m guide – also believed to be around the then valuation.

Harry Stamoulis and Dug Pomeroy are believed to be selling a Mulgrave site to Elanor Investor Group.

CBRE’s Kiran Pillai and Scott McGlone with Cushman & Wakefield’s Nick Rathgeber and Leigh Melbourne were the agents.

The deal comes a year since Shakespeare Property Group picked up the neighbouring 18 storey, 22,600 square metre office, 8 Nicholson St, for $213.7m from Dexus.

Built when car parks were a community benefit

Designed by Bates Smart and McCutcheon which, nowadays without the McCutcheon, still occupies, the heritage protected East Melbourne office was developed for ICI, or Imperial Chemical Industries, which became Orica in 1998 and sold to Blackstone eight years ago.

It contains 16,970 sqm of lettable area; fully leased, co-work outfit Hub rents the top floor, once a 400-seat cafeteria open to the public.

Ixom occupies a 2750 sqm space formerly filled by Orica.

Qantm Intellectual Property is another key tenant client.

Bates Smart McCutcheon’s Sir Walter Paul Osborn McCutcheon also penned an eight storey office for ICI in Sydney; completed in 1956 it is now demolished (story continues below).

The 40m height limit was set after a 1901 fire in an eight level Sydney building killed five people.

The Melbourne office was approved considering it delivered community benefit including a landscaped ground floor area and basement car park – both also open to the public.

It followed more than three decades of debate about whether the precedent was hampering the city’s economic and population growth.

A building boom followed with Orica House holding the title as the country’s tallest skyscraper until the now razed CRA Building, or Comalco House, at 101 Collins St was completed in 1962 rising 99m.

Harry Stamoulis reweighs

Charter Hall held 1 Nicholson St in the Direct Office Fund, of which it is a major stakeholder; the trust controls c$3 billion of product.

Mr Stamoulis, whose family established soft drink brand Gold Medal, which sold to Cadbury in 2004, is a diversified property developer and investor.

In July, the businessman listed the Woolworths distribution centre along with a neighbouring site, owned by Dug Pomeroy, as an amalgamated investment with development upside seeking $200m-plus – a property now believed to be trading to Elanor Investors Group.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of