Options abound for historic tram car shed

The interior of the former tram car shed in North Melbourne.

Come for the cars, stay for the history. Or maybe that epic apartment upstairs. Or perhaps the development potential.

Interested buyers have been many and varied for a heritage-listed building known as the former ‘North Melbourne Cable Tram Car Shed’, which is to be auctioned on December 8.

The property at 8-14 Howard St, once an important part of Melbourne’s famous tram car network, has in recent years been home to upmarket mechanic City Prestige, which leases the main workshop space, while the building’s owner stores a collection of cars in the rear part of the building.

Upstairs lies a two-level, five-bedroom apartment, constructed in the last three years.

The building features more than 1500sqm of floorspace, with 1010sqm spread across the downstairs showroom and warehouse, and the size of the land parcel has already led to significant developer interest.

The former tram car building is currently home to a mechanic.

The former tram car building is currently home to a mechanic.

The property sold in 2013 for $3.35 million, but Jellis Craig agent John Morello, who is marketing it in conjunction with Sutherland Farrelly’s Paul Farrelly and Paul Sutherland, says expectations are significantly higher this time around.

“We’re saying in excess of mid-$5 million,” Morello says.

“At the moment we’re getting enquiry from developers that would convert it into a boutique mixed-use development.”

Upstairs is a five-bedroom residence.

Upstairs is a five-bedroom residence.

“We’ve had straight-out investors just looking to land bank it, because 1000-odd square metres of land in North Melbourne doesn’t come up very often.”

“Interestingly we’ve also had lots of owner occupiers – businesses that want to turn it into a showroom and can see there’s a residential element as well.”

Morello says developers have already indicated they are keen to maintain key parts of the building’s history, particularly its brick facade, while the area’s planning controls will restrict the potential height of any development.

The building sits on a prized 1010sqm parcel of land.

The building sits on a prized 1010sqm parcel of land.

“It’s got one of the original lifts in the building, so from that point of view there’s certainly a bit of history that goes with it,” he says.

“You are restricted in that pocket or North Melbourne, in that you can’t go 10 or 20 storeys like on Flemington Rd or Elizabeth St. There are some planning controls in that pocket.”

“I think it’s up to about 18 metres, so four or five levels.”