Offshore interest rises as billions in Victorian commercial property sells in 2021


Melbourne’s commercial real estate market hosted its share of impressive sales and trends in 2021. Picture: Sarah Matray.

Billions of dollars have changed hands across Victoria’s commercial property sector in 2021.

And with super funds, developers and investment groups joining high-net-worth families some eye-catching deals and trends have emerged.

Here are some of the year’s most noteworthy.

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Fittingly, one of Melbourne’s biggest office sales in 2021 was on behalf of the man behind some of the city’s tallest towers.

Building industry icon Bruno Grollo, whose eponymous firm built the Rialto in 1986, was the major beneficiary of a $223.5m deal for a 14-storey office tower in Footscray.

Investment fund Centuria Capital Group shelled out for the 1 McNab Ave property in a deal arranged by Knight Frank.

Knight Frank Victorian head of investment sales Langton McHarg said this year’s lockdowns had created “pent-up demand” to rival that seen before the pandemic.

A render showing the original Zaha Hadid plan for 600 Collins St, Melbourne.

The firm also worked on an about $200m sale for 600 Collins St, Melbourne, which settled this year after a deal was struck in the final days of 2020.

Developer Landream had planned a 54-storey tower by Zaha Hadid architects for the site, but sold it to US developer Hines who have said they will look to amend the existing permit to suit a premium office tower.

They weren’t the only developers throwing big money around, with Lendlease driving one of the year’s biggest CBD sales as they bought a 19-storey tower at 469 La Trobe St, Melbourne, for $203m.

The developer also owns a building next door and could enact a long-term redevelopment of the pair opposite the Flagstaff Gardens.

Commercial real estate groups CBRE and JLL handled the deal.

505 Little Collins St, Melbourne - for herald sun real estate

505 Little Collins St, Melbourne, achieved a nine-figure result.

Both also worked on a $154m sale for the 12-storey high 505 Little Collins St to North American firm AEW Capital.

Nationwide, CBRE have estimated $16.6bn in office, retail, industrial and hotel properties have changed hands in deals with foreign money involved — 39 per cent of that from the United States and 35 per cent of it from Singapore.

CBRE’s Mark Coster said the sales reflected quick adaptation to the pandemic in the industry and among the buyers and sellers.

“What surprised us was how quickly the industry innovated in regard to acquiring assets during this year’s lockdowns and how overseas capital found a way to compete for available properties, including teaming with local investment partners,” Mr Coster said.

Supplied Editorial RF Corval has bought Levels 88 and 89 in the Eureka Tower

RF CorVal bought levels 88 and 89 in the Eureka Tower in the year’s tallest sale.

One of the highest-profile deals for the year was the about $60m sale of Eureka Tower’s 88th and 89th floors, including Melbourne’s highest restaurant, Eureka 89, and public observation deck, the Eureka Skydeck.

Tourist attraction group Journey Beyond sold the properties to investor RF CorVal, but will continue to lease the spaces.

JLL’s Josh Rutman handled the sale, with the firm also involved in the $70m transaction of another major Southbank project, the Melbourne Square Shopping Centre at 93-119 Kavanagh St. Malaysia based developer OSK Property built the retail space, which sold to real estate investment trust Primewest.


Industrial properties were among the city’s most in demand properties in 2021, with significant numbers of deals done with eight- and even nine-figure price tags — rivalling many of the commercial markets once more popular sectors in office and retail.

One of the biggest industrial property sales for the year occurred in Wyndham, with an about 7ha property at 917 Boundary Rd sold for $137.1m.

CBRE handled the sale which will see GPT develop the site as a warehouse and lease it back to the vendor HB Commerce.

262 Lorrimer St, Port Melbourne - for herald sun real estate

262 Lorimer St, Port Melbourne, proved a winning investment for the well-regarded Jreissati family.

The high-profile Jreissati family were also major winners in this space, selling a Port Melbourne warehouse they bought for $31m for an impressive $81.6m after just seven years. The 262 Lorimer St property hosts tenants including Rathbone Wine Group who use it as a distribution site for labels including Yering Station and Mount Langhi Ghiran.

Dawkins Ochiutto Commercial Real Estate director Chris Jones helped broker the deal for the Jreissati’s known for patriarch Elias Jreissati’s development firm Bensons Group and the Levantine Hill winery where his daughter Samantha is the managing director.


399 Royal Pde, Parkville - for herald sun real estate

399 Royal Pde, Parkville, sold for $138.7m early in the year.

A handful of the city’s biggest sales in 2021 stood out for other reasons.

On the CBD’s fringe, Dexus splashed $138.7m on a life sciences building in Parkville’s biomedical precinct at 399 Royal Pde.

The buyer credited it as their best purchase for the entire year and CBRE, who handled the sale, has predicted the sector’s value will come close to doubling to a total value of $24bn in the next 10 years.

Another nine-figure sale occurred in Craigieburn as a 68.52ha former BHP training facility with a conference and events centre changed hands for $140m.

Remarkably it was done on a “cash” basis.

The 20 Dunhelen Lane property also has a 124-room hotel, but Singaporean developer Ho Bee Land bought it with a view to transforming it into housing.

20 Dunhelen Lane, Craigieburn - for herald sun real estate

The sprawling 20 Dunhelen Lane, Craigieburn, property will go from commercial use to residential development.

Biggin & Scott Land and CBRE handled the receivership sale enacted by PWC on behalf of owner HNA, a Chinese conglomerate that collapsed at the start of 2021.

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