Foreign investors could make strong case to buy Dandenong Family Law Court

53-55 Robinson Street, Dandenong.
53-55 Robinson Street, Dandenong.

Dandenong’s Family Law Court of Australia could be sold to foreign investors and developed up to seven storeys after being listed for sale.

Expected to top $11m when it goes under the hammer next month, the 53-55 Robinson Street property is tipped to attract a mix of local, interstate and international investors.

While rented by the government for $782,413 a year to hear cases including custody battles, redevelopment could commence in as little as five years at the end of the lease.

It has been home to the Family Law Court of Australia since it was built in 1983, but CoreLogic records show it has since been sold three times — most recently for $6.6m in 2012.

It was listed for sale in late 2018 for about 150 days, but did not change hands.

In 2017, the court is believed to have hosted the first Victorian trial to help family violence victims through legal aid.

The Newcastle Family Law Court sold for $35.3m to Sydney investment fund Marprop in September.

CBRE’S Scott Orchard said the 2371sq m property was under-utilised and there were indications town planning would approve up to seven storeys of redevelopment if the courts moved on at the end of their lease.

“There’s the potential for a lot more height and the current property is an under-utilisation of the land,” Mr Orchard said.

“By the time the lease runs out, and depending on the government’s intentions as you would want to hang on to a tenant like that, there’s scope for a mixture of commercial use or residential under the zoning.”

With COVID-19 demonstrating the importance of secure rental income, it was likely to be a widely contested auction, Mr Orchard said.

“It’s an interesting asset, given the nature of the government tenant,” Mr Orchard said.

Doug Paroissien general manager of Outer South Homelessness and Womens Service, Mark Caldwell senior manager Southern and Eastern Melbourne of Relationships Australia, Gayathri Paramasivam Associate Director Family Law Victoria Legal Aid and Chris Horsfall Lawyer with Peninsula Community Legal Centre at the court when the 2017 trial commenced. Picture: Lawrence Pinder.

“We have had some instances of a site like this selling sight unseen to a buyer from Hong Kong last year, but it is difficult given the restrictions.”

Gross Waddel conjunctional agent Alex Ham said substantial infrastructure spending in Dandenong had given central sites like the court a multitude of possible uses.

The current owner, an investor, was selling the property to free up funds for a number of regional investments, Mr Ham said.

While the government hadn’t revealed any future plans, he said it did seem to be happy at the site — and it was very rare to see a court listed for sale.

“I can’t recall the last time a court went under the hammer in Melbourne,” Mr Ham said.

The 53-55 Robinson St property goes to auction at 2.30pm on November 26.

This article from the Herald Sun originally appeared as “Dandenong Family Court listed for sale, could be redeveloped”.