The commercial property news that mattered most in 2016

Woolworths has finally revealed it will close its Masters stores on December 11.
Woolworths has finally revealed it will close its Masters stores on December 11.

It’s been a huge year in Australian commercial property.

From major sales to quirky and unique properties hitting the market, 2016 ran the full gamut when it comes to news.

Here are the 10 stories readers couldn’t get enough of.

1) Primewest grabs slice of Masters pie

Readers were itching for any news surrounding the demise of Woolworths’ hardware chain Masters, after it was shut down and sold off late in the year when it finally admitted defeat in its battle with Bunnings.

Property manager Primewest, led by John Bond, in November became the newest high-profile entrant into the consortium that bought Masters for a bargain $730 million, and readers were all over it, making it our most read story for all of 2016.

2) Costco announces trio of new stores

It was one of the first major commercial property stories of 2016, and supermarket discount chain Costco’s revelation of its planned locations for three new stores proved to be of significant interest.

Marsden Park, 49km north-west of Sydney, was unveiled as the first new store for 2016, while it was also announced that Melbourne would receive its fourth store and Brisbane its second.

Costco announced three new stores early in 2016.

Costco announced three new stores early in 2016.

3) The sexiest profession of the 21st century is…

REA Group’s new chief economist Nerida Conisbee wasted no time in setting the news agenda across the commercial property landscape in 2016.

Her stunning revelation that the most desirable profession of the 21st century is almost certain to be a data scientist was both eye-opening and a major source of interest for property buyers.

It became our third most well read story of the year.

4) Chinese giant looms as potential Bunnings threat

Nothing stirs excitement in commercial property readers quite like any mention of hardware retail juggernaut Bunnings Warehouse.

So news that one of China’s top building ­materials and homewares companies, China Lesso Group Holdings, had bought up a couple of Sydney sites with a view to potentially going head to head with Australia’s home improvement heavyweight grabbed everyone’s attention.

The Hong Kong-listed group bought a bulky goods site in the inner western suburb of ­Auburn and was in the process of securing a warehouse development in the western suburb of Prospect as it laid the base for a local business.

A Bunnings Warehouse in Joondalup, Western Australia, has sold for more than $43 million.

China Lesso Group Holdings could be taking on Bunnings.

5) Bunnings moves quickly on Masters stores

Speaking of Bunnings, the green and red giant wasted no time in picking apart the carcass of Masters’ failed home improvement division.

BWP Trust, which owns 80 stores leased to Bunnings across Australia, in August announced Bunnings would vacate seven of its stores in order to swoop on ex-Masters sites.

6) Australia’s ‘best brothel’ to spark love interest

It was a big year for Sunshine Coast’s Scarlet Harem brothel.

Around 12 months after the Kunda Park venue named ‘Best Brothel Overall’ at the Australian Adult Industry Awards, it was on the market, with all of its beds and paraphernalia included.

Unsurprisingly the property attracted its fair share of attention from commercial property buyers, with the story rating sixth on our list of most read articles in 2016.

One of the Scarlet Harem's themed rooms.

One of the Scarlet Harem’s themed rooms.

7) Buyers keep powder dry at Melbourne portfolio auction

Maybe it was interest in a swag of properties that didn’t find owners the first time around, or perhaps it was Sydneysiders happily gloating about their ability to get a deal done.

Either way, our story about Melbourne buyers keeping their hands in their pockets at a commercial property portfolio auction while their Sydney counterparts engaged in a spending spree the previous day was a big winner.

While the Sydney auction in early August saw 15 of 18 properties find new owners, just eight of 16 had the same luck in Melbourne, though two of the properties later sold post-auction.

8) Kryal Castle yet to find knight in shining armour

It’s one of Victoria’s most beloved tourist attractions. But no one seems to love Ballarat’s medieval-themed Kryal Castle quite enough to buy it.

After we revealed in April that the iconic destination was up for sale, it was our follow-up story seven months later revealing that it was still on the market, that really struck a chord with readers.

Medieval tourist attraction Kryal Castle in Ballarat is still on the market.

Medieval tourist attraction Kryal Castle in Ballarat is still on the market.

9) West Gate servo the most expensive in a decade

Aussies love a record, and local commercial property consumers are no different.

News in August that a near-new service station on Melbourne’s West Gate Freeway had sold for $22.5 million, making it the most expensive station sold anywhere in Australia in more than 10 years, proved popular with readers.

Why the bumper price? The 15-year leases to Viva Energy Australia, Red Rooster and Hungry Jacks helped, as did the $1.41 million annual income and 180,000 cars that pass the site daily.

MAB Corporation has sold the West Gate Express service station for $22.5 million.

MAB Corporation sold the West Gate Express service station for $22.5 million.

10) Dreamworld tragedy: Luxury resort planned for theme park

The tragic deaths of four people on a ride at Queensland theme park Dreamworld was one of 2016’s biggest news events, and revelations Dreamworld’s owner was considering building a $100 million resort, retail and apartment complex beside the park understandably also made waves.

It was revealed that the park’s owner, Ardent Leisure, had talks with the American-owned Wyndham hotel company and time-share operator as well as high-profile Gold Coast developer Robert Badalotti about building the property.

Overwhelming interest in the goings-on at Dreamworld lifted the story into our top 10 most-read articles of the year.