Most of those homes have been demolished in the past half century to make way for office buildings which are now amongst the cheapest in Melbourne to buy or lease. Increasingly these offices are being replaced with apartment towers.
Some historic mansions have remained around the precinct but, like Airlie, had their side and back yards sliced, diced, developed, subdivided and sold.
In June 2007, Queens Road based developer Asian Pacific Building Corporation paid $12 million for the 452 St Kilda Road estate, which included a development permit for what was a car park, behind the mansion.
Airlie was previously the headquarters of the Royal District Nursing Service, and also the office of investor and developer Clement Lee, who owned the asset for a period.
On land behind Airlie, APBC has since developed the Blackman Hotel, an 18 -level, 209-unit tower.
It also embarked on a lavish restoration of the historic mansion, and taken the unusual step of marketing Airlie concurrently with commercial and residential agents targeting very different types of buyers.
What are bedrooms to agency Kay & Burton, who are marketing the asset as a prestige home, are boardrooms to CB Richard Ellis, whose floorplan suggests a 700 square metre luxury office which may attract corporate through to consulates.
The mansion is expected to fetch about $8 million for APBC, which is also selling retail investments at the ground floor of the Blackman Hotel (expected to fetch another $4 million) and the Kings Business Park in South Melbourne, which has price expectations of about $110 million. It’s expected APBC will eventually sell some Blackman Hotel suites to private investors.
Around the corner, a consortium including Macquarie is planning to demolish the 107-year old Avalon mansion at 70 Queens Road. Avalon is one of the only surviving homes by prominent architect William Pitt, who also designed the Princes Theatre and Olderfleet buildings in town. A 12-level 91-unit apartment complex, Proximity, will be developed on that site.