Hundreds of people have crowded onto footpaths to witness a record-breaking marathon auction in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD.
Local and international buyers vied for the keys to 220 Bourke Street on Friday in a dramatic contest that clocked in at two hours and 15 minutes. It was the longest commercial auction in Victorian history, according to real estate agent Colliers International.
Bidding for the four-level art deco building, which has been held by the same family for more than 80 years, began at $9.5 million. It took a total of 661 bids from eight bidders before the hammer came down for the final time.
Consolidated Travel Group founder Spiros Alysandratos was the ultimate victor, cliniching the coveted property for a price of $15,205,000.
Built in the late 1930s and designed by renowned Melbourne architect Harry Norris, the building occupies a 197 square metre block, with a total floor space of just over 1000 square metres.
“It sold for a huge price under incredible conditions,” auctioneer Daniel Wolman said of the property, which went for 38 per cent over its reserve price.
A technical malfunction forced Mr Wolman to conduct the marathon auction without the aid of a microphone.
“I shouted and did everything I could without tearing my vocal cords out,” he said.
Adding to the street theatre was a “jampacked” crowd of up to 500, Mr Wolman said, with spectators spilling onto the street to catch a glimpse of the action.
“The market was very, very strong. It started off with some offshore bidders, and then the majority of the two-hour battle was between two local groups,” Mr Wolman said.
“The result is due to a combination of low interest rates, a lot of cash buyers, and local buyers that are really pushing and going after something worth fighting for that hasn’t been on the market in 80 years.”
The sale of 220 Bourke Street is expected to be dwarfed in coming months by another jewel in the crown of Melbourne’s CBD shopping precinct: 274-278 Bourke Street.
On the market for the first time in 63 years, the rare freehold title in the heart of Bourke Street Mall is expected to fetch upwards of $40 million.
Built in 1859, the property has been owned by the same family since 1955, when it was purchased by Elbaum Holdings for $402,000.
Bourke Street Mall ranked 17th in a 2017 list of most expensive areas to rent a retail store in the world, according to Cushman & Wakefield’s Main Streets Across the World report. It was surpassed in Australia only by Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall, which placed seventh.
The competition for the prime Melbourne CBD spot is expected to be fierce, with only 13 freehold Bourke Street Mall titles in existence, and only one to appear market in the past decade. The site is currently leased by crystal jewellery purveyors Swarovski and footwear retailer Windsor Smith.
“Bourke Street Mall is arguably Australia’s best retail street,” Colliers International agent Oliver Hay said.
“It’s now seen on a global scale, with Melbourne being a world-class city, you can draw comparisons to Fifth Avenue in New York and the Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich. It’s a world-class street now.”