The ground floor is proving a hive of activity in many new office and apartment blocks in and near the city with major brands snapping up space off the footpath in record numbers, according to commercial real estate agencies.
In the past three years, the trend has accelerated, matching the growing number of investors looking for alternatives to the share market of residential properties for their self-managed superfunds.
Palate pleaser Andrew McConnell has chosen the newly finished 171 Collins St tower for his latest restaurant, which will start serving from early 2014.
The award-winning restaurateur behind such food places as Cutler & Co and Cumulus was considered a coup for joint developers of the site Cbus Property and Charter Hall Office Trust.
Designed by Melbourne architects Projects of Imagination, the Flinders Lane facing restaurant will have an open-plan kitchen that will provide all the theatre of a MasterChef set not just to patrons but also pedestrians who will be able to watch the action through the glass exterior.
Cbus Property chief executive Adrian Pozzo said McConnell would be joining an already impressive list.
Cbus and Charter Hall formed a joint partnership three years ago to market, lease and develop the project with a long-term strategy to own and manage the building.
Meanwhile, down the road at 347 Flinders Lane, Italian-themed restaurant Vapiano has recently opened its first Victorian location, which cost $2 million to set up.
Conceived in Germany a decade ago, Vapiano sited are in more than 130 locations worldwide.
There are now three venues in Australia and chief Will Cooke says there are plans to open a second Melbourne and Sydney location next year and a further two restaurants a year over the next five years.
According to agency CBRE, retail tenants are also capitalising on the boom in apartment developments in prime Melbourne locations.
CBRE’s Zelman Ainsworth said many major residential projects were being delivered in the Melbourne CBD and inner suburbs at the moment and most included a ground-floor retail component.
CBRE has been involved in several recent leasing projects such as the Lilli Apartments for Fridcorp, Northbank Place for Far East Consortium and Flagship Property Holdings’ Sunday Apartments on Conventry St, South Melbourne.
The two latest kids on the Sunday block are Tea Time Express, taking a seven-year lease for a 69sq m cafe, and Asian restaurant Kotaraya securing the a 170sq m tenancy on a 10-year term.
STANDALONE commercial properties are also proving irresistible to buyers hungry to add to their investment portfollios, according to Colliers International.
The agency’s winter national auction book recorded a clearance rate of 93.75 per cent of listed stock for a total of $29.6 million along the eastern seaboard.
Victorian buyers in particular showed an outstanding appetite for commercial assets, with a 100 per cent clearance rate recorded in a week of auctions.
Of the eight Victorian properties for sale, three were sold prior to auction and the remainder under the hammer, with a total value of more than $9.2 million.
The most lucrative sale was that of the Rhodes Hair Studio building in Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn, which fetched an impressive 3.48 per cent yield in front of a 60-strong crowd. The chilly weather clearance rate compares to the autumn’s successful sales of 84 per cent of properties listed.
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