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South Yarra bluff reaps Matthies more than $35 million

Saint Cloud mansion is part of a huge landholding sold by aged care builder John Matthies.China-backed developer Sterling Global is snapping up another high-profile Melbourne site, paying aged care builder John Matthies more than $35 million for eight neighbouring properties forming a South Yarra bluff.
SuZhou Night Recruitment

The 7904-square-metre holding with two street frontages took Mr Matthies five years to amalgamate at a reported cost of some $25 million.

The offering includes the distinctive 1000-square-metre semi-circle Saint Cloud mansion at 61 Kensington Road, a site which before it last exchanged in 2012 was South Yarra’s largest private land holding.

In 2013 Mr Matthies, director of n Aged Care Group, proposed to replace the site with a low-rise facility only capable of accommodating some 80 residents. Targeted to wealthy buyers, the complex would also have included a 40-seat cinema, golf simulator, wine cellar, hairdresser and several dining rooms capitalising on the unobstructed view the sloping parcel has over the Yarra River, and the CBD, about three kilometres away.

When the site was listed late last year as a development opportunity called Alexandra on the Park, sources familiar with planning speculated it could make way for a higher density project. The flexible property allows for basement car parking and numerous mid-rise apartment buildings, perhaps rising five or six storeys. Some of the sites Mr Matthies amalgamated to create the supersite already included older-style apartment complexes.

Covering addresses in tree-lined Kensington Road and Alexandra Avenue, the holdings are not in a pocket of South Yarra zoned for high rise buildings (Melbourne’s tallest suburban apartment tower, however, is under construction in the suburb, set to rise 50 levels at the corner of Toorak Road and Chapel Street).

CBRE’s Mark Wizel confirmed that after a range of offers from local and overseas, Alexandra on the Park sold to a locally based Chinese developer. Within the mix of prospective purchasers, he said, were aged care providers.

Mr Wizel marketed the site with colleagues Josh Rutman, Lewis Tong and Scott Orchard. The agents declined to comment on the sale price which is understood to be more than $35 million.

Sterling Global, financed by Chinese capital, has its n headquarters at Melbourne’s Rialto towers. Its development director, Brandon Yeoh, was unavailable when contacted to discuss the transaction or site future.

Last year, the developer gained approval to construct a $700 million, 70-level Jean Nouvel designed mixed-use building at 383 LaTrobe Street. It bought the low rise office occupied as the n Federal Police Headquarters from Investa Office Fund for $70.7 million in mid-2015.

Sterling Global also controls one of south-east Melbourne’s most prominent infill sites – a former quarry opposite the Huntingdale Golf Course in Oakleigh South, about 17 kilometres from the CBD.

The developer is currently working with the City of Monash council to have the land rezoned so as to allow it to be remediated and redeveloped. Disused for more than 20 years, Sterling’s proposal for 1221-1249 Centre Road is expected to accommodate 2500 residents in a master planned community with an end value of more than $600 million.

As well as apartment buildings rising about six levels, the Oakleigh South proposal includes serviced apartments and a student accommodation complex.

Previously described by Mr Yeoh as a “flagship development” for Sterling Global, the Oakleigh Site is expected to take between five and eight years to replace.

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