Melbourne’s iconic Georges building set for transformation

Colliers International to re-position historic CBD retail building amidst evolution on Collins Street

One of Melbourne’s most iconic and historic buildings is going through a transformation amidst an evolution in the CBD retail precinct.

Colliers International’s Ben Tremellen, Cam Taranto and Jarrod Herscu have been appointed to lease 900sqm as part of the re-positioning of the iconic Georges building at 162 Collins Street in Melbourne.

Mr Tremellen said the Georges building was the “jewel in the crown of the Collins Street fashion and entertainment precinct".

“The Georges building is one of the most iconic buildings along the famous Collins Street strip and this exciting re-positioning will breathe new life into the historic building,” he said.

The Georges building links Little Collins and Collins Streets and is surrounded by an eclectic mix of leading international and Australian fashion brands and designers. It is the only thoroughfare between Swanston and Russell Streets.

The prominent building was founded by brothers Willie and Harley George in 1880. It was built to cater to the wealthy Melbourne of the gold-rush era and became known as a local institution for style-savvy shoppers.

One of the major tenancies within the building is 900sqm on the ground floor which has been vacated by the Reader’s Feast bookstore. The substantial space will be split into between eight and ten tenancies and re-positioned with a focus on female fashion and accessories to feed off the existing luxury retailers on Collins Street.

Mr Taranto said there would be a particular focus on creating a go-to destination for female fashion and accessories.

“The aim is to create the only major ‘footwear precinct’ within the Melbourne CBD,” he said. “On our most recent retail roadshow in Asia we identified this as a successful trend and are looking to replicate the strategy in Melbourne, supported by both national and international footwear retailers.

“Luxury retail is spilling over to the northern side of the Melbourne CBD, from the traditional southern side ‘Paris end’s of Collins Street, which provides an opportunity to activate new precincts like this."

Several anchor tenancies have been secured and Colliers International is in negotiation on the final tenancies.

Mr Taranto said strong competition to purchase property in the Melbourne CBD was leading to an influx of property buyers now looking to secure long leasehold sites to create upside, with CBD retail vacancy at its lowest in over 10 years.

“In order to create upside, investors are carving up tenancies which allows them to increase the income generated by the space – whether it be basement space, ground floor space, mezzanine or first floor space,” he said. “This scenario is most frequently occurring in high traffic, core retail locations.

“The privately-owned Georges building is a prime example. Originally, the bookstore were paying around $600/sqm, whereas now the opportunity has arisen to increase rents to $1,000/sqm for smaller shops.”

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