Fitzroy’s Kindness House, once dubbed “the rent-free commercial building”, for sale again

Former owner Phil Wollen offered upper-level offices in the buildng rent-free to activist groups.

One of Melbourne’s best located and most unusual inner-city commercial properties has been listed for sale again.

Kindness House in Fitzroy’s Brunswick Street is speculated to be worth more than $15 million, according to sources.

It is being marketed via an expressions of interest campaign targeting investors and developers.

With six ground floor shops below two levels of office space, the complex is at the north-east corner of Victoria Street, opposite popular drinking hole Naked For Satan.

It is also one building away from the corner of Johnston Street. Adjacent to this corner is The Provincial Hotel.

As well as the building name, Kindness House has the words “Go vegan” painted on its roof.

For 25 years prior to last selling in 2014 for $15 million, Kindness House was controlled by philanthropist, former Citibank vice president, Phil Wollen.

At the time some two thirds of the tenants, including activist groups Save the Wales and Greenpeace, were said to be paying no rent to occupy offices within the building.

Mr Wollen offered the property with leases to these tenants, a move which earned it a name during the 2014 marketing campaign as “the rent-free commercial building”.

However the asset does derive an income – some $694,000 per annum – from the ground floor shops.

Kindness House, which sits on a 1045 sqm plot at 276-294 Brunswick Street, about two kilometres north-east of the CBD, is expected to arouse interest from developers which might consider rebuilding or extending it with something more substantial. The marketing agents are also promoting the potential for the building to be retained and for upper levels to be refitted as co-working offices.

Colliers International’s Oliver Hay and Matt Stagg with CBRE’s Rorey James and Mark Wizel are the brokers.

Since 2016, Australian Volunteers International sold two adjoining and owner-occupied assets in the vicinity for a total of $15.1 million, recently buying an office at 160 Johnston Street, Fitzroy, for just over $5 million.

An aerial image showing Kindness House in relation to the Melbourne CBD – about two kilometres away.

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Marc Pallisco

A freelance property writer and experienced analyst, Marc is the co-founder of realestatesource.com.au

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