Festival Hall – Melbourne’s eighth largest live entertainment venue ranked by capacity – is quietly being marketed for sale.
Included is the multi-purpose arena at 300 Dudley Street developed 64 years ago after a fire destroyed a c1913 complex built by boxing promote RL Baker simply known as West Melbourne Stadium.
The Wren and Lean family’s Stadiums Limited has held it since 1915.
The partnership is concurrently selling two office/warehouses near Festival Hall: 3/119 Adderley Street (on a 536 square metre site) and 288 Rosslyn Street (449 sqm).
Each of those properties has a c$4m guide.
Festival Hall could sell for c$24m, with interest expected from developers, as well as investors or occupiers.
Colliers International’s City Sales’ Matt Stagg is closing an off-market expressions of interest campaign next week.
Festival Hall and Melbourne
Festival Hall accommodated gymnastics and wrestling during the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.
Later known as the House of Rock and Roll, the venue also hosted The Beatles, Johnny Cash, Bill Haley, Frank Sinatra and Shirley Bassey.
More recently, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Justin Timberlake, The Foo Fighters, Ed Sheeran and Lorde performed there.
Festival Hall holds sporting and cultural functions too.
The venue has events booked well into next year, Mr Stagg said.
For Sale sign hangs for the first time in more than a century
The 3460 sqm stadium is walking distance to Southern Cross station in a pocket of the city which has seen a wave of new construction since 2000.
It occupies a 4135 sqm plot.
The address is less than 500 metres from MAB’s Newquay, Marvel Stadium and Victoria Harbour – all places Melburnians wouldn’t have frequented 30 years ago.
Opposite 3/119 Adderley Street, Trenerry Property Group is replacing a former Australia Post depot with a $345m mixed-use project, West End, containing five towers of between eight and 13 storeys – residences and services apartments – over 4000 sqm of retail.
Deague Group recently completed 22 and 28 level buildings as part of its Melbourne Village at nearby 377 Spencer St.
Private developers Bill McNee, via Vicland Property Group, and Tim Gurner, with his eponymous construction company, have also in recent years completed apartment projects in the suburb.
Early last year, an application by the current ownership group to replace Festival Hall with apartment towers was rejected by planning authorities (story continues below).
Festival Hall as urban renewal site
Mr Stagg confirmed Colliers is structuring a transaction that may unlock air-rights and underutilised land, enabling continued use of Festival Hall alongside a precinct revitalisation.
Joint ventures including with operators in the education, entertainment, hospitality, government, media and retail sectors, are also being formulated.
Some groups are considering an outright purchase for occupation, according to the agent.
…and gateway to Docklands and E-Gate
Festival Hall lies at a south west tip of a precinct covered by planning guidelines within the West Melbourne Structure Plan, which was endorsed by the City of Melbourne last year.
Three hundred Dudley St abuts both Docklands and E-Gate: 20 hectares which government planners once earmarked for a community containing high-density housing and offices.
West Melbourne and nearby Arden-Macaulay (also marked in image, right), are set to accommodate thousands of apartments – and tens of thousands of residents over the next 10 to 15 years.
Arden will also include an underground train station, part of the $11 billion Metro Rail initiative, which will connect the region to South Yarra via the city.
In what is called full mode – where ground floor patrons are standing – Festival Hall can hold 5400 people.
As an entirely-seated venue, this number drops to about 4500. Events for as low as 2200 people can also be accommodated.
These numbers rank the complex Melbourne’s eighth biggest based on capacity – between Margaret Court at Melbourne Park and St Kilda’s Palais Theatre.
Festival Hall is also the largest privately-owned venue in the city.
It would be extremely difficult to develop a venue the size of Festival Hall in Melbourne because of the scarcity of sites, town planning challenges and building expenses, Mr Stagg said.
According to a 2017 KPMG Stadium Ownership Report, the cost of an Australian stadium seat has increased over the past decade to $10,000.
The most recent comparable venue is Brisbane’s Fortitude Music Hall: this c3500-capacity complex cost $43m inclusive of land, pricing each seat at $12,285.
Festival Hall contains 12 sections – including a VIP area and “fan meet and greet” space.
It is accessed by 46 doors – along Dudley and Rosslyn streets and Wren Lane.
There are 11 bars, four merchant stalls, 12 bathrooms, two dressing rooms, communal lounge, and administrative offices.