Developer snaps up Witches in Britches

The 742 square metre site has three street frontages.

It will soon be the end of an era at one of West Melbourne’s highest profile intersections, with the Australian arm of China backed developer Jinding snapping up the Witches in Britches restaurant for a mixed use project.

The theatre restaurant has CBD and Flagstaff Gardens view security.

At 78-86 Dudley Street, on the north east corner of King, opposite Flagstaff Gardens, the two storey building fetched $7.288 million following an expressions of interest campaign launched six weeks ago.

The 742 square metre mixed use zoned site presently has limited development upside – up to four storeys.

It is surrounded by tall new towers including UAG’s 25 level Flagstaff Hill at #45-55 Dudley St and, across from that, Gurner’s nine floor Ikebana.

Also in the area – a 20 storey student accommodation complex recently replaced the airspace of the former Yuncken Freeman headquarters at 407 King St, on the south west corner of Batman.

“This acquisition adds to the diversity within our property portfolio with high potential for a mixed-use project down the track and strong demand for boutique developments in city fringe locations,” Jinding chief executive officer, Jay Song, said of 78-86 Dudley St.

“It is a significant addition to our current $2 billion residential portfolio, which includes master-planned communities, the $370m The Patch in the Wollert growth corridor and the $270m Harriott at Armstrong Creek,” he added.

“We are focused on opportunities to invest with a long-term strategic view, positioning us to capitalise on future growth in sought-after locations such as this one,” according to the executive.

“This site presented an opportunity for Jinding to value-add through refurbishment or for redevelopment in the longer term”.

Mixed use project planned

“The [Witches in Britches] property represents one of Melbourne’s most iconic and well known buildings,” according to the marketing agents, JLL’s Josh Rutman, Nick Peden, Tim Carr and MingXuan Li with CVA’s Ian Angelico and Jarrod Moran.

The restaurant has occupied for over 30 years, they added; with 1042 sqm, it includes a bar able to accommodate 110 patrons and the theatre restaurant which can seat twice that (story continues below).

There is also a 1am liquor licence.

Jinding is picking it up at a 3.36 per cent net passing yield.

Its redevelopment is expected to include retail, offices and residential over basement car parking.

Developer outbids occupier

Elsewhere in Victoria, Jinding is proposing low density housing estates, at, amongst other areas, Greenvale, Kilmore and Wollert.

Last year it acquired its maiden Queensland block – in Surfers Paradise – spreading 1012 sqm, costing $4.6m, it came permit-ready for a 27 storey apartment complex.

“Despite the [West Melbourne] building having a height limit…[the] developer purchased the property with plans to redevelop in the medium term and take advantage of the high-profile location on the doorstep of the CBD,” Mr Peden said.

Six offers came in, according to the executive.

Mr Angelico added most of that interest was from builders however owner-occupiers, including groups which would have retained the restaurant use, were also in the mix.

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Marc Pallisco

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