Paddington’s Verona Cinema up for sale with hopes of $30m
The future of Paddington’s Art house cinema Verona — opened by Nicole Kidman 25 years ago — is up in the air with it hitting the market with $30m price hopes.
The grand gala opening occurred on February 14, 1996, with the Australian premiere of Gus Van Sant’s film, To Die For, which starred Kidman alongside Matt Dillon and a teenage Joaquin Phoenix.
Kidman was dropped off by then husband, Tom Cruise, in a flash sports car — he had just appeared in Mission Impossible.
And in the years since Verona has become a much-loved institution with Perfect Strangers (2017); La La Land (2016); Cold War (2018) and Jo Jo Rabbit (2019) among its highest-grossing films of the past five years.
But owner Robert Bleakley, founder of Sotheby’s Australia Fine Art, who created the Tonkin Zulaikha Greer-designed cinema, has decided to list the prominent 1,138 sqm corner site at 17 Oxford Street with IB Property director Steffan Ippolito, in conjunction with Harry George of CBRE, in an expressions of interest campaign.
“It’s been a cultural hub for many years … but from the owner’s point of view it’s time to move on,” Ippolito said.
“Developers have bought either side of it so he’s thinking he may as well test the market.”
There’s still the potential for an investor to purchase the property and for it to continue as a cinema.
But along with investors, Ippolito says he’s already getting interest from developers considering a mixed-use project which might include retail, office space and apartments.
The redeveloped site could benefit from northerly unobstructed Sydney Harbour views.
Work has already started next door on the redevelopment of the former Academy Twin — originally West’s Olympia Theatre that had opened in 1911 — which is set to be 25 Hours Hotel.
Developed by Central Element and the property investor Boston Global, with the architects coincidentally Tonkin Zulaikha Greer, it’s expected to open a the end of next year.
The City of Sydney recently earmarked Oxford Street as a key priority area for renewal and revitalisation.
Verona houses four boutique screens with seating capacity for 366 people and a fully licensed wine and espresso bar.
The ground floor originally opened as Mambo’s first retail store.
That closed in 2006 and has since hosted multiple art exhibitions, including Channel 9, Chanel and Google.
The expressions of interest campaign closes at 4pm on August 12.