Historic Nicholas Building for sale

PMDL Architects’ impression of 31-41 Swanston Street with an activated rooftop.

A trophy asset developed as an investment by Aspro founders, brothers Alfred and George Nicholas, is for sale as a repositioning opportunity.

The c1926 Nicholas Building should trade for more than $80 million.

Cathedral Arcade connects Swanston Street and Flinders Lane.

At 31-41 Swanston Street, on the south west corner of Flinders Lane, the property abuts the Town Hall stop of the $11 billion Metro Tunnel project, set for completion in 2025.

Nicholas Building (circled) abuts the Town Hall stop of the Metro Tunnel project, due to open in 2025.

Its western wall fronts Cocker Alley, due to become a major thoroughfare for train commuters.

Colliers’ Lachlan MacGillivray, Matthew Stagg and Oliver Hay, with Allard Shelton’s Joseph Walton, Patrick Barnes and Michael Ryan are closing an expressions of interest campaign on August 12.

Nicholas Building

The Nicholas brothers constructed the 11-level (inclusive of basement) office and retail building speculatively.

Its architect, Harry Norris, then set up his practice in a space.

For four decades until 1967, Coles operated a supermarket on the lower levels – now known as the Cathedral Arcade.

According to plaques inside the building, the developers chose its Wunderlich terracotta cladding so it would “always look new”.

Until a renovation nine years ago, it had the city’s last remaining manual lifts.

It also accommodates Melbourne’s only remaining example of a lead-light roofed, fan-lit arcade.

Nowadays, Nicholas Building is tenanted to 112 groups – a mix including artists and designers.

Gregory David Roberts is understood to have written the award winning Shantaram in one of the suites (story continues below).

Banksy’s Little Diver was once stencilled on Nicholas Building’s western wall.

A Banksy stencil, Little Diver, appeared on its western wall in 2003 but was destroyed by vandals five years later.

Ripe for activation, renovation

Cathedral Place is configured with several multi-level tenancies.

The upper storeys, with the offices, are considered rented below market rates.

Its rooftop has the potential to be activated as does the Cocker Al frontage.

“The timing of the listing coincides with the scheduled completion of the new Town Hall station…planned to incorporate a 20,000 sqm retail and commercial Over Station Development with commuter entrances from Swanston St and Cocker Al” Mr MacGillivray said.

“Upon completion, it is forecast the Flinders St station precinct will have the highest volume of public transport commuter and pedestrian foot traffic in the Melbourne CBD,” he added.

“Future refurbishment and reposition of the building may include enhancement of Swanston St and Cathedral Arcade tenancies.

“Other value-add and investment opportunities may include refurbishment of commercial tenancies, co-working, strata subdivision, owner-occupation or conversion to residential, hotel or hospitality use”.

The listing comes three months since Fidinam purchased the unrenovated Invicta House, diagonally adjacent on Flinders Ln, from Swinburne University.

In April, Justin Hemmes’ Merivale acquired nearby Tomasetti House with plans to repurpose it as a hospitality venue.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of realestatesource.com.au.