The 71-year old art deco cinema, which sits on a supersized 1840 square metre block at the high profile corner of Chapel Street and Dandenong Road, was quietly put to the market this week.
The property is leased to cinema operator George Florence, who restored the grand Astor Theatre from being a grubby band hall in the early 1980s. It also includes four fully leased shops facing Chapel Street which contributes to an annual rent of $176,000.
Gross Waddell director and selling agent Michael Gross says he expects The Astor to arouse interest from investors, wanting to buy a piece of Melbourne history. He said the property is protected by a heritage overlay which would restrict redevelopment.
However sources speculate that in these days of government encouraging development up, rather than out, part of the large St Kilda parcel of land could be developed.
“If somebody said ten years ago the city’s General Post Office, or the Espy would make way for apartments, everybody would have laughed,” said one industry source who wished to remain anonymous. “You can never say never with Melbourne’s planning controls at the moment.”
The Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind building in nearby St Kilda Road was recently sold to developer Stockland for more than $28 million. Part of the site is expected to be converted into high rise apartments.