Pitt Street retail icon sold after 150 years

160 Pitt St has been home to the Soul Pattinson pharmacy for almost 150 years.
160 Pitt St has been home to the Soul Pattinson pharmacy for almost 150 years.

Sydney businessman Victor Comino has swooped on the historic Pitt St Mall building that has housed the Soul Pattinson pharmacy for almost 150 years in a dramatic off-market play valuing the complex about $100 million.

The deal, brokered by JLL, will see the canny property investor pick up 160 Pitt St, at a crisp yield of less than 4%, and give him the capacity to add significant value to the unique building by introducing a new retailer to the country’s top boulevard.

Comino, a well-known city landlord, is believed to be in talks with a number of retailers, and could capitalise on the area’s re­juvenation.

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Nearby King St has emerged as luxury precinct and is being activated by landlords including Dexus and GPT at the MLC Centre and Investa and Brookfield at 388 George St.

Big names including Tiffany & Co have signed to the area, which developers are now positioning as a luxury precinct akin to Melbourne’s best shopping strips.

JLL’s Simon Rooney and Rob Sewell sold the Sydney retailing icon, alongside financial adviser Pitt Street Real Estate Partners, on behalf of Washington H. Soul Pattinson & Company Limited.

For Comino, a prominent private Sydney landlord, the play adds to his $300 million holdings that are benefiting from the overhaul of the city’s mid-town precinct.

In 2015, he bought the former Darrell Lea building, a historic site on one of George St’s most prominent retail corners, for more than $25 million.

He also owns the opposite flagship Apple store and the Louis Vuitton store.

The building gives Comino a prime foothold in Australia’s best retail strip.

The property has been occupied by Soul Pattinson Chemist and Group head office since 1873.

Washington H Soul Pattinson and Company says it will cease trading at the pharmacy on the ground level at 160 Pitt St in June.

The company notes the history of the building that Caleb Soul and son Washington Hanley Soul shifted to a year after opening. It was rebuilt after an 1886 fire and named the Phoenix Building.

WHSP has since become an investment house with holdings in telecommunications, coal mining, building products, property and financial services.

“This is the end of a chapter in the company’s history. We will be sad to see the pharmacy closing its doors after 145 years, however, we are immensely proud of what has been achieved,” WHSP chairman Rob Millner says.

The complex is one of just 10 properties with Pitt St Mall frontage. The mall is very tightly held, being just two-thirds the length of Melbourne’s Bourke St Mall and half the length of Brisbane’s Queen St Mall.

“Sydney CBD is going through a dramatic overhaul at the moment which will attract even more customers and tourists to the CBD and drive growth in retail spending — particularly along Sydney’s pre-eminent retail strip, Pitt St Mall,” Rooney said.

The luxury retail strip is the most productive boulevard in the country with estimated sales of about $1.4 billion or productivity of around $14,000 per sqm.

This article originally appeared on www.theaustralian.com.au/property.