Clifton Hill’s historic Commonwealth Harness, Saddlery and Leather Accoutrements Factory for sale

The property was previously configured over three levels.

A historic Clifton Hill property once owned by the Department of Defence is available for sale as a commercial or residential development play.

At 24-28 Groom Street, the three-level red brick building sits on a 340 sqm plot with seven off-street car parks.

The vendor recently stripped out a commercial fit out.

GrayJohnson marketing agent Brett Simpson said the opportunity now exists for a single-storey repurposing.

Adding mezzanine floors is also an option.

The site occupies a corner site.

The site could make way for an office, apartment or townhouse conversion.

Mr Simpson expects prestige home buyers, who may undertake a major renovation of the 925 sqm area, to also show an interest.

The Department of Defence took control of the site in 1911 when it became the Commonwealth Harness, Saddlery and Leather Accoutrements Factory, which manufactured equipment for the armed forces until the late 1920s.

“I understand that during this period it [the property] became the provider of harness equipment for the Battle of Beersheba and other major World War One military campaigns,” Mr Simpson said. “There is still a commemorative plaque on the building façade acknowledging the contribution the building made to the Australian Military Forces from 1912 to 23”.

“During 1930s the building became the Bourke & Cooke boot factory, before Zig Zag Paper took over manufacturing their legendary roll-your-own cigarette papers here”.

National Can Industries acquired the site in 1973 to produce many of Australia’s famous tin can packaging including biscuit tins and original bank money boxes – now sought by collects, Mr Simpson said.

National Can on the closure of manufacturing in Australia continued to occupy the building as its corporate office until recently.

The property has views of the Melbourne CBD about four kilometres away.

The mixed-use zoned site has 16 metres frontage to Groom Street and 25 metres to Yarrabing Lane.

“Now exposed by the strip out works are the historic building features including exposed timber beams, ceilings and floors, brickwork, with a goods lift remaining in place,” Mr Simpson said.

The Groom Street property “is the type of unique and highly accessible city-fringe property opportunity with unique character that has all but disappeared from the market under the strong demand for residential conversions or boutique office uses.

“As a building that has stood on this site for about one hundred and nineteen years it stands ready for creative ideas and an architectural repurposing to capitalise on its history, ideal location and to meet the strong market demand.

“My opinion is that at its listed private sale price of $4.9 million it won’t be on the market for long”.

Last month we reported that Flinders Lane-based design house Bar Studio acquired a historic red brick warehouse in Collingwood, on a 1045 sqm block.

A former building floorplan.

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Marc Pallisco

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