The four storey strata titled Abbotsford office upon which the iconic Skipping Girl neon sign was built in 1970 is for sale.
Skipping Girl Place at 651 Victoria Street is expected to trade for more than $20 million to an investor, owner occupier or even developer which might consider utilising the airspace longer term.
A latter outcome could mean ‘Little Audrey’ – the name of the girl used to promote vinegar producer Skipping Girl – could be relocated. either slightly skyward or to another location.
The current Skipping Girl sign replaced one built in 1936 and displayed for over 30 years atop 627 Victoria Street, formerly the vinegar maker’s factory.
The original is understood to be the first animated neon sign put up in the city.
Like the Pelaco symbol in the neighbouring suburb of Richmond and Nylex clock and silos, on the Yarra River banks next to that in Cremorne, Little Audrey has been immortalised in Melbourne-related artwork.
Representative of the inner east’s blue collar past, the Skipping Girl sign was Victorian Heritage listed in 2007 and restored in 2009 after a long period of being turned off.
Colliers International’s Peter Bremner, Rob Joyes and Rachael Clohesy, with CBRE’s Josh Rutman, Scott Orchard and Lewis Tong, along with Vantage Property Investments, as transaction manager, are marketing Skipping Girl Place via an expressions of interest campaign closing in five weeks.
The listing was made possible after the banding of Vantage Property Investments with owners of other strata titled office suites configured into the 3677 square metre brick Art Deco building.
Skipping Girl Place as a development play
Skipping Girl Place occupies a 2971 sqm Commercial 1 zoned plot with 39 metres of frontage to the Yarra River.
Shopping centre Victoria Gardens is across the road.
A nine storey building with little setback is soon set to start construction next door.
Corridor controls introduced in 2017 would cap the height of any redevelopment or extension of 651 Victoria Street to less than 20 metres.
The Skipping Girl Place marketing agents said the area supports high density residential development, with Salta, Hamton and Icon recently completing complexes.
A year ago a nearby property marketed as a building block, 36 Grosvenor Street, traded for $17.3 million.
Three months later, Forza Capital paid Carlton & United Breweries $12 million for a multi-level car park on a 3880 sqm parcel with frontage to Grosvenor and Flockhart streets.
Skipping Girl Place as an investment
Mr Bremner said office vacancy rates in Melbourne’s city fringe are at record lows and tightening.
“Tenants occupying older style offices in the surrounding area are increasingly seeking alternative accommodation as these buildings make way for new developments,” the agent said.
“These tenants are generally reluctant to move further away from the CBD and are preferring to relocate to affordable CBD fringe suburbs like Abbotsford.”
The Zagame Family, assisted by Fife Capital, has already tapped into the trend by embarking on an office repositioning project in nearby Trenerry Crescent after acquiring the property for $21 million from the Australian Education Union a year ago, Mr Bremner said.
Terraplex has also recently acquired a Victoria Street office with a view of capitalising on future rental growth in the area, the executive added.
Last July, United Petroleum co-founder Eddie Hirsch launched a pre-lease marketing campaign for what promises to be Abbotsford’s greenest office, at 218-228 Hoddle Street.
In September, 2018, Mr Hirsch sold a neighbouring property – a warehouse converted office at 198-210 Hoddle Street – to Thorn Harbour Health, an owner occupier, for $10.5 million.