Victoria’s biggest commercial deals of 2020: Festival Hall, David Jones

Landmark Victorian buildings beloved by locals changed hands for mega money in 2020. Take a look at the city’s most notable commercial deals this year.

RELATED: Festival Hall: Hillsong Church buys iconic Melbourne music venue

Saga continues: Sorrento’s Continental Hotel sold again

Craig’s Royal Hotel: Ballarat landmark sells to major hospitality group


Festival Hall

Festival Hall has been at the heart of Melbourne’s music scene for decades. Picture: Ellen Smith

One of Melbourne’s grungiest music venues is becoming a House of God. Festival Hall was bought by Sydney-based Pentecostal church Hillsong for a massive $23.75m in October.

A complete renovation to the concert hall, where legendary artists The Beatles, Frank Sinatra and Johnny Cash have performed, will convert it into the Melbourne base of the megachurch.

Legendary artists have performed at the venue.


It could soon look a little like this. Picture: Nikki Short

Hillsong leader Brian Houston said the venue — once known as the House of Stoush for its boxing ring inside — would hold church services “every Sunday night or Sunday morning or whenever we have church”, but there would also be opportunities for other community events.


David Jones carved off its landmark Bourke Street menswear store to a property development company co-run by Hawthorn premiership player Chris Langford.

David Jones menswear store at 299 Bourke Street, Melbourne.

AFL Grand Final 2014

Buyer Chris Langford with his ex-Hawthorn son Will. Picture: Alex Coppel

The retail site at 299 Bourke Street was secured by Newmark Capital for $121m after more than 140 international and domestic inquiries, CBRE’s Pacific head of retail capital markets Simon Rooney said.

David Jones chief executive Ian Moir said the sale allowed the retailer to focus on creating and “optimising” a single flagship store out of its 310 Bourke Street building — currently its flagship womenswear site — while “simultaneously paying down debt”.


Work has halted on the redevelopment of Sorrento's iconic Continental Hotel. Picture: Christian Tatman

Work has halted on the redevelopment of Sorrento’s iconic Continental Hotel. Picture: Christian Tatman

Sorrento’s landmark Continental Hotel sold to a prominent developer after being plagued with issues over the past five years.

The 145-year-old heritage building, which was largely gutted, is understood to have sold for about $14.5m to Trenerry Property Group.

Countless issues with a $100m redevelopment drove the Supreme Court of Victoria to rule to end a previous contract of sale with director Julian Gerner.

Development plans for Continental Hotel in Sorrento

Julian Gerner first bought the building in 2015. Picture: Jason Sammon

Continental Hotel Development Stalled

There’s plenty of work to be done. Picture: Penny Stephens

He originally bought the hotel for $15m in 2015 before starting work on a new bar, fine dining and function area that was supposed to open by September 2019.

Colliers International selling agent Guy Wells said the Sorrento community has been “asking and waiting for” the landmark hotel to reopen for years and while the sale was a positive step forward, “it’s still going to be some time before that vision is realised” due to the scale of the redevelopment.


Craig’s Royal Hotel, Ballarat sold for about $13m.

A grand hotel once dubbed the “pride of Ballarat” by American novelist Mark Twain was bought for about $13m in March.

The incredible gold rush-era building has hosted members of the royal family, Sir Don Bradman and Dame Nellie Melba since opening in 1853.

Its will live on after hospitality giant Black Rhino Group bought the building and announced the company would keep the doors open as a boutique hotel, restaurant, bar and gaming facility.

In Melbourne, beloved Irish pub the Dan O’Connell changed hands to Fitzroy Community School for a Carlton campus, which will have students in prep to year 6 studying in rooms used as watering holes since 1884.

The Dan O’Connell Hotel in Carlton also sold this year.

Pub to become school

Fitzroy Community School will occupy the former pub. Picture: Ian Currie

The Emerald Hotel in South Melbourne will remain a famed watering hole.

But it’s been confirmed South Melbourne’s Emerald Hotel will keep drinks flowing, after Kay & Burton’s chairman Gerald Delany bought it for $6.025m.


Collin Street’s Paris end will stay home to the city’s flagship Louis Vuitton store, after its historic building sold for about $65m to a Singaporean investor.

Colliers International agent Matt Stagg said they received “overwhelming interest” from across the globe, leading to more than 15 competitive offers.

Louis Vuitton’s flagship store is in the historic building.

The grand National Trust-protected building was built in 1886 as a doctors’ office and later became the headquarters for the historic women-only Alexandra Club for 60 years.

Louis Vuitton’s long-term lease ends in 2026, which means the luxe store is unlikely to disappear from the city.

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