Christian Dior buys ex-Melbourne nightclub

The Hour Glass bought 139 Collins Street in 2020 with a lease to rival Louis Vuitton until 2026.


Christian Dior is the latest luxury retailer to buy a boutique building in Melbourne’s Paris-end to occupy.

The Hour Glass now owns 181 Collins Street, which competitor Balenciaga approached the former landlord to rent two years before a lease to Ralph Lauren expired.

Following a $39 million off-market deal, the group has secured the c1902 former Metcalfe & Barnard warehouse at 145-149 Flinders Lane (pictured, top), at the south east corner of Russell Street – a block from Collins.

Also known for years as nightclub The Ivy and before that, Madison’s, the five level 1499 square metre asset was briefly owned by late music manager Glenn Wheatley and then brother-in-law, ex-Richmond football club president Clinton Casey, who famously sold it in the 1991 downturn for $2m – just after a $3m refurbishment.

Rolex purchased Centenary Hall from the Liberal Party in 2018.

The seller this time around was Perth based Adrian Fini’s FJM Property which paid c$8m in 2010 with plans to extend four levels and sell it down as a luxury apartment project – a proposal rejected three years later by the City of Melbourne then Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

In recent years, the property has dubbed as an investment with the lower two floors leased to furniture and lighting specialist, Stylecraft, following a renovation.

Daniel Wolman and Oliver Hay, who recently moved to Cushman & Wakefield, are rumoured to have been involved in the deal but declined to comment.

Christian Dior is 59 per cent controlled by Bernard Arnaout, the world’s richest person, also the owner of LVMH, which holds Fendi, Givenchy and TAG Heuer in its stable.

Presently in the Westin Hotel at 205 Collins St, Christian Dior or another LVMH marque, Louis Vuitton – with a rental agreement ending at 139 Collins St in 2026 – are expected to move to 145 Flinders Ln after lease expiries there, a fit out and possibly an extension (story continues below).

Rolex moved into the renovated Centenary Hall in May.

Corner attracts another high end retailer

The red brick Metcalfe & Barnard building occupies 305 sqm in what is considered the CBD’s most exclusive corner for shops, offices and residential.

Chanel leases the ex-Church of Scientology headquarters at 140 Flinders Lane.

The Christian Dior deal comes 13 years since David Marriner paid the Church of Scientology $7.4m for a historic building across the road – now known as 140 Flinders Ln – then secured London-based Chanel as a tenant for a store and training centre costing $22m to create.

With that rental agreement, plans by Mr Marriner to build a 25 storey hotel on the 346 sqm parcel were shelved.

Also this week, we are reporting Justin Hemmes bought a Paris-end building.

Also on the block, in 2020, Singapore based The Hour Glass outlaid $68m – against a c$50m guide – for the Louis Vuitton occupied store at 139 Collins St while the year later, it paid $35m for a multi-level boutique in the street, at #181, which Balenciaga approached the former landlord, the Smorgon family, to rent for a flagship store two years before the lease with former tenant, Ralph Lauren, expired.

Five years ago, meanwhile, the Liberal Party of Victoria sold its long time headquarters, the c1935 Centenary Hall, on 445 sqm at 104-110 Exhibition St, for $37.1m to Rolex Australia – a subsidiary of the Geneva based fashion house – which in May moved in following an opulent refurbishment.

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Marc Pallisco

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