Iconic Bendigo ‘Beehive’ building hits the market
A 150-year-old Bendigo building which was a key setting of the town’s trade share heyday, has hit the market with a $3.95 million price tag.
The former Bendigo ‘Beehive’ Mining Exchange, at 24-26 Pall Mall, was one of only two mining exchange buildings constructed in the era.
Colliers International Ballarat senior executive Travis Hurst said the building played a significant role in the heritage of the Goldfields of Central Victoria.
“Our appointment was based on advice that the property be directly marketed locally and nationally to experienced investors that have capacity and vision to put to good use this grand building and revive its glory days,” he said.
“We believe that the interest generated by the sale of such a significant property will come from investors and owners who have a strong track record in developing and adapting the re-use of significant heritage buildings.”
Set on 661sqm and comprising 1415sqm of floor space across three levels, the open ground floor includes provisions for a commercial kitchen, bar and amenities to accommodate up to 600 people.
The first floor features two function rooms, plus 10 smaller function/meeting or retail spaces.
On the second floor there are four rooms yet to be completed.
Joint selling agent Matthew Bowles, of Dungey Carter Ketterer, said there were an incredible number of significant heritage features which were uncovered and revived during the restoration of the building in 2019.
“In recent years, the ‘Beehive’ building has been fully restored back to life. It forms an intrinsic part of the council’s CBD development plan and is vital to Bendigo’s CBD future entertainment and tourist precinct,” he said.
Mining Exchange’s important role in local history
Built in 1872, to accommodate the Bendigo Mining Exchange, the building was home to share brokers on the first floor.
From their balcony, they would trade shares with traders on the ground floor. At its busiest, some 2000 traders and a further 5000 shareholders would be buying and selling shares in speculative mining companies.
Since its days as a mining exchange, the building has been home to retail outlets and offices, with the most well-known being ‘Allan’s Music’, who purchased the building in 1927 and constructed the ground floor shops creating ‘Allan’s Walk’.
The Heritage Council Victoria’s statement of significance describes the ‘Beehive’ building and the former Bendigo Mining Exchange as “important for its association with early Bendigo, and for its association of retail commerce and mining speculation.”
The building was an important example of the work of the noted architect Charles Webb, it said.
Labour of love in restoring ‘Beehive’ it to its former glory
Owner Craig Lightfoot has owned the building for the past six years and said the time was right for him to sell.
He had plans to develop it into a hospitality venue but the onset of the pandemic in early 2020 put that idea to a halt.
He had worked on restoring the building with his cousin – a well known publican in the area – but he died of a brain tumour and never got to see the finished work.
Mr Lightfoot said they had put an enormous amount of time and money into restoring the iconic building.
“Put it this way, at the asking price we are not really making a profit out of it,” he said.
“We had a great time, we learnt plenty and won a few awards along the way as well.”
This included the Lachlan Macquarie award for heritage architecture at the 2021 Australian Architecture Awards, in addition to the John George Knight Award for Heritage Architecture at the 2021 Victorian Architect Awards.
Mr Lightfoot said the property would suit an owner-occupier.
“It is an iconic building in Bendigo. There’s an enormous history to it and a lot of personal connections to people of Bendigo as well,” he said.
Mr Hurst said it was best suited to a buyer with a strong vision for the property or enterprise.
“With the infrastructure in there I can see it being a food or catering type business, or perhaps I could see it being a microbrewery or gin distillery or could be a gallery, or mix of all those things,” he said.