Grahame Mapp to repurpose South Melbourne studio

Businessman and racehorse owner Grahame Mapp – who has been on the AFR Rich List since 1984 – is re purposing the landmark studio where rock royalty recorded and some of Australia’s bigger blockbuster movies were produced.

The 1930s Melbourne Butter Supply factory at 180 Bank Street, South Melbourne, within the shadow of the Clarendon Street shopping strip, is being renovated into a premium-grade office – which is now for rent.

The Melbourne Butter Factory today.

The building

Skyhooks recorded at 180 Bank Street, South Melbourne.

In the 1960s and 70s, Bill Armstrong Recording Studio occupied the premises, hosting acts including Daddy Cool, The Easybeats and Skyhooks.

Russell Morris’ The Real Thing was produced at the site.

Mike Brady’s Up There Cazaly and Russell Morris’ The Real Thing were produced out of 180 Bank Street – as was John Farnham’s Sadie the Cleaning Lady (reportedly the inspiration for the song was Mr Armstrong’s building cleaner).

After Bill Armstrong left, the South Melbourne complex was occupied by Deluxe Australia’s DPP studios, which post produced films.

Movies Hacksaw Ridge, Lion, Mad Max: Fury Road and The Water Diviner were edited at 180 Bank Street.

Recent history

Mr Mapp unsuccessfully tried to sell the building last year.

It was offered as part of a $45 million portfolio with the neighbouring site, 154 Bank Street, and a car park one property holding away at 217 Dorcas Street.

The Melbourne Butter Supply building was also available separately with a price tag of about $30 million.

The 180 Bank Street office renovation

The four storey 180 Bank Street building contains about 5263 sqm of net lettable area which is due to be renovated by the second quarter of 2020.

Two smaller buildings attached to the main warehouse add c1550 sqm to the supply of office available for lease.

Lemon Baxter’s Paul O’Sullivan, Jay Pavey and Amy Jones are marketing the 6800 sqm of space for occupation as a whole or in parts.

The floorplates vary from 882 sqm to 1448 sqm.

The contemporary fit-out will feature a central atrium with feature stair well, polished concrete floors, hard wood floors and exposed red brick walls.

An on-site café, public plaza and end of trip facilities will be configured into the redevelopment.

Car parking will be provided, coincidentally, at the nearby 217 Dorcas Street site Mr Mapp listed with 180 Bank Street last year.

“The architect’s design aesthetic is to retain as much as the original structure and features as possible…bringing light into this once 1930s butter factory turned commercial offices,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

“With a little imagination, this could be the most unique and well positioned office space in South Melbourne,” he added.

Mr O’Sullivan said spaces would be available to rent from 700 sqm (story continues below).

South Melbourne sale and development activity

South Melbourne has been a hub for creative and high-tech industries for decades – but several corporate businesses are based there, too.

Last October, the Fox family acquired the former Bosco Johnson headquarters at 16-22 Eastern Road, for $5.2 million.

The Linfox owners paid $4.4 million for the neighbouring property (8-14 Eastern Road) in 2015. It is speculated the amalgamated 989 sqm holding will make way for a new company headquarters within a few years.

Last September, advertising executive Harold Mitchell offloaded a South Melbourne office at 105 York Street for $49 million.

A year ago, 9-17 Raglan Street, South Melbourne, sold for $14 million – a 53 per cent rise on the $9.1 million the vendor paid two years earlier.

Last month the low-rise office next door (3-7 Raglan Street) exchanged for $3.35 million – valuing every square metre of land at $11,833.

We also reported that a small arcade on a 1011 sqm block at 219-221 Park Street traded for $7.3 million.

Last week RESCOM Group sold its 100 Park Street headquarters for $8.1 million.

Office developers are active in the area, too.

The former Novak motor repair workshop near South Melbourne Market is making way for another high-quality office building.

Hickory is building a five-storey office at 68 Clarke Street.

The Deague family also recently broke ground on an office at 101 Moray Street.

Residential redevelopments are planned by PDG Corporation, which we reported last month picked up part of the former JH Boyd Girls School site. Apartments are also set to replace 77 Park Street and 286 Kings Way, a residential redevelopment project which Tim Gurner bought into last year.

Harold Mitchell sold Emerald House at 105 York Street, South Melbourne, for $49 million last year.

Grahame Mapp

Mr Mapp established coal mining and exporting corporation Oakridge Limited.

In the early 1970s he sold one of his companies to a London investment firm. In 2012, he offloaded his television production group OmniLab Media.

Said to have a net worth circling $450 million, the businessman owns Hobartville Stud, the oldest horse stud in Australia, near Sydney.

Also a philanthropist via the Grahame Mapp Family Foundation, Mr Mapp has been a long term financial supporter of charitable causes including the recently established Life Education Foundation.

Mr Mapp is still in the media industry via Ambience Entertainment which recently remade the 1976 movie Storm Boy.

The redevelopment will incorporate historic elements including red brick walls and timber ceiling beams.
Artist’s impression of 180 Bank Street post-renovation.
An internal staircase connects four levels.
Artist’s impression of the proposed foyer.

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Marc Pallisco

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