Paul Little Buys South Yarra Office Building

Mr Little, who it has been claimed has a net worth of about $400 million, is believed to have outbid boutique residential and office developer Fridcorp, and listed property trust Stockland for the 11-storey, 18,000 square metre Toorak Road tower.

The asset was put to the market by Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, which built the tower in the early 1970s as a data centre to accommodate “back end administration” staff. ANZ recently sold another office building at 287 – 301 Collins Street, to listed Australian Property Growth Fund for $30.5 million.

The sales are a result of ANZ divesting its property assets – ahead of its move to a new site in Docklands in 2010.

ANZ will lease back the South Yarra data centre for two years, giving Mr Little time to dream up a new future for the tired looking building, considered an eyesore to the typically bourgeoisies Toorak Road shopping community.

A spokesman for Little Project Developments Pty Ltd told Capital Gain it plans to put a glass curtain wall over the façade of the building, and extend out the back and above. One of the biggest complaints developers had about the building, according to sources, was the low ceilings which created cramped and dark office areas.

The building is virtually at the centre of a larger development zone, which is seeing the former industrial pocket of South Yarra converted into high end residential, office and retail spaces.

The big surprise in the final handful of bidders, according to sources, was boutique developer Fridcorp, which announced last year it wanted to add offices to its long list of redevelopments, which have mostly included prestige apartment projects.

Fridcorp managing director Paul Fridman confirmed it threw its hat in the ring for the ANZ data centre, but declined to comment any further on the negotiations. Stockland, believed to be another underbidder, failed to return Capital Gain’s call.

Jones Lang LaSalle director James Kaufman marketed the building with Steve Messina. Both failed to return Capital Gain’s calls.

Mr Little’s other major commercial property play is in Stawell Street Richmond, where he is developing the former Cussons factory into 133 townhouses. Every unit has sold off the plan.

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Marc Pallisco

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

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