The building home to a Melbourne industrial heyday icon, the “Skipping Girl” Vinegar sign, has been sold in an off-market transaction.
Fitzroys Director Paul Burns negotiated the sale of 651 Victoria Street, Abbotsford.
The sign sits above a three-level, 3,668sqm office complex which also fronts the Yarra River. It was sold by multiple strata title holders that included funds manager Vantage Property Investments, who banded together to sell the property in one line.
The property was mostly leased and sold with a short weighted average lease expiry (WALE). Currently, the property returns $1.2 million per annum and $1.5 million when fully-leased.
The private purchaser plans to upgrade and re-let the building with a longer-term view to redevelopment, which may include adding levels to the existing building or construction of a new building.
However, the National Trust and Victorian Heritage Register-listed sign must remain incorporated into any future structure on the prized 2,971sqm site.
The sign - which Heritage Victoria considers to be first animated neon sign displayed in Melbourne - features a girl known as “Little Audrey” and was originally installed above a vinegar factory at nearby 627 Victoria Street to promote the Skipping Girl vinegar brand manufactured by Nycander & Co. When the vinegar factory moved to Altona in 1968, the sign was copied and reinstated on the roof of 651 Victoria Street in 1970.
“This was an ultra-rare opportunity to own a true Melbourne icon,” Burns said.
“We were able to secure a buyer off-market during the pandemic through our contacts in the extensive Fitzroys database, after the property was offered to the market early in 2020 through other agencies, without a buyer being found,” he said.
“As well as the chance to secure a landmark asset, the attraction for buyers also stemmed from the property’s rare riverfront position, its location opposite Victoria Gardens surrounded by medium and high-density residential, and the ongoing gentrification of the city fringe.
“Abbotsford is one of the last city fringe suburbs with genuine unrealised development potential. Melbourne’s inner-city office markets have been in huge demand throughout COVID with flexible working arrangements in vogue, and businesses and employees are looking for highly accessible locations close to lifestyle amenity.
“The Richmond and Cremorne markets have become ultra-competitive in recent times and neighbouring Abbotsford is firmly in the sights of a growing number of businesses.
“Abbotsford is rapidly gentrifying from an industrial precinct to a preferred medium and high-density residential and commercial destination.”
Next door, Salta is developing the nine-level high-density Walmer apartment project.
Burns noted the property’s ample car parking (102 bays) was also an attraction.
“Car parking has become more of a premium in the COVID environment, so many still preferring to drive rather than take public transport in the commute to work,” he said.