Moonlight Cinema founder James Tutton aims to smash Coburg price record with sale of historic Koorali

James Tutton, the founder of Australia’s hugely successful Moonlight Cinema enterprise, who now heads property developer Neometro, is selling the historic Melbourne mansion he bought on impulse two years ago.

Koorali, at 23 The Grove, in Coburg, is expected to trade for between $3 million and $3.3 million, smashing the inner northern suburban price record set just four months ago when Ismailia, at number 35 in the street, exchanged hands for $2.5 million.

Tutton, pictured above ,who turned his hand full-time to property development after selling Moonlight Cinema to Becker Entertainment for $8.3 million in 2004, bought Koorali after admiring it when he parked his car out the front to inspect a nearby block of land.

The imposing home had just been listed for private sale at $2.4 million after passing in at auction for $2.1 million in April, 2015. Tutton secured it for $2.2 million that August before undertaking a flash renovation, involving Clare Cousins Architects.

Built in 1887 by wealthy property developer Montague Dare, Koorali is one of a pair of enormous family sized Victorian “mansionettes” (the other house, at 25 The Grove, is known as Kalimna and last traded for $2.1 million in 2012. Kalimna was once occupied by the Clare Grammar School and split into flats for a period before being consolidated again nearly 40 years ago).

The duplex is identified by its imposing and distinctive French inspired mansard towers, polychromatic bricks and ornate cast iron lacework.

Dare was responsible for the suburb’s significant and now very valuable Moreland Park Estate – built on three quarters of a 40-acre farm he bought from Jean Rennie in the early 1880s (the balance of the farm was kept for Dare’s own family home, Moreland Park).

Dare subdivided Rennie’s farm into 147 allotments and employed architect TJ Crouch to design Koorali, Kalimna and some of the estate’s other ornate homes, in a land boom which busted by the 1890s.

Today, The Grove, and the street which runs parallel, The Avenue, are regarded as Coburg’s most prestigious residential rows.

Kay & Burton’s Damon Krongold with Jellis Craig’s Rob Elsom are closing an expressions of interest campaign for Koorali on September 20.

On a 981 square metre block with a north facing pool, the double-storey home includes four bedrooms, a study and formal and informal living and dining areas.

Following any sale Tutton and his young family have the option of moving full-time to another home they own on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.

Twitter: @marcpallisco

Share or Recommend article

Marc Pallisco

A freelance property writer and experienced analyst, Marc is the co-founder of