Lee family sell Brighton Savoy after 56 years

The Lee family purchased the Brighton Savoy (right) in 1967.

Primeland has bought the waterfront Brighton Savoy with plans for a $120 million luxury apartment and townhouse project.

The Brighton Savoy site has 175 metres of street frontage.

The developer is speculated to be paying less than the $30m guide for the 3393 square metre holding at 150 Esplanade, also with frontage to Victoria and Wellington streets.

The asset was offered in January by the Lee family which bought it in 1967 and traded there until three years ago; it hosted the Logie Awards in 1960 and once accommodated ex-prime minister, Bob Hawke.

Brighton Savoy contains 60 modern guest suites.

Agents also spruiked the property last September – shortly after a plan to repurpose it as a healthcare investment fell through following local objection.

The deal comes 11 months since Primeland, chaired by Robert Brij, acquired the Albert Heights serviced apartment complex on 1694 sqm in East Melbourne – a site now the subject of a Carr project with 14 dwellings.

The group’s residential portfolio includes, in Brighton, Olivia at 69 Well St, and developments in Doncaster East, Officer South and Sydenham.

It also has an interest in Adelaide’s former General Motors Holden plant, now an industrial park, Lionsgate, held by Pelligra, and is behind a low density housing estate at Brisbane’s Hemmant.

End of an era

The Savoy was listed by siblings Michael and Jennifer Lee after their father, Hungarian refugee Des, who bought the property, died in July, 2020, aged 87.

At the time, months into the national COVID-led lockdown, the business was haemorrhaging following the collapse of its two arms: events and guest accommodation.

In 2021, Ms Lee posted a Facebook message which went viral questioning how a company like the Savoy could handle land tax bills of $462,000 over two years when it could only trade a handful of months.

The property sale campaign – managed by Knight Frank’s Stephen Kelly, James Thorpe and Langton McHarg – targeted other operators and developers; opposite Brighton Beach the property is also walking distance to Church Road shops and Brighton station (story continues below).

Primeland intends to demolish the three storey, 60-room guesthouse and function centre over a two level, 80 bay basement car park, for its project, which will contain apartments from $5m, a c$20m, 600 sqm penthouse, and townhouses at the rear.

The apartment complex earmarked to replace Albert Heights.

Rooftops will be activated.

Confidence in ultra-high end: Primeland

Established as a residence in 1909, the Savoy holding was repurposed as a hotel 50 years later.

“This site is a prime jewel in the crown of Brighton; the fact that it has only transacted once in 55 years underpins its rarity and location overlooking the bay,” Mr Brij said.

“The vision for this project is to create a luxury experience that is befitting of this superior address, that will stand as a landmark for not only Brighton but all of Melbourne,” he added.

“The last few years have seen significant growth in our portfolio and capabilities as we focus on building a mixed-use pipeline across Australia in the hotel, industrial and residential sectors,” according to the executive.

“We are particularly interested in Melbourne’s ultra-high end [where] we think there is considerable opportunity.

“The Savoy is the type of development site that will allow us to create something that will honour its location along one of Australia’s most famed esplanades”.

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Marc Pallisco

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