Angel Tavern Press


Rowsthorn cashes out of Malvern

The 4720-square-metre site, including the old hotel and heritage facade, is an island site in a transport hub, on the corner of Glenferrie and Dandenong roads opposite the local station.

That position and its locality, upmarket Malvern in Melbourne’s inner east, have raised expectations for the site, which could potentially be home to a $600 million mixed-use development.

“The time has come for me to leave it to the big guys,” Mr Rowsthorn told The Australian Financial Review this week.

Near the site is more land used as a car park, controlled by the local council and VicRoads, that offers further scope for development. Adding to a broader vision in the area is the prospect of putting a plaza over the nearby rail lines.

“I thought about the vision of it, the interface with rail and the car park and making it into a mega-site in time,” Mr Rowsthorn said..

“It needs a Mirvac or a Lendlease or a big Asian conglomerate to take advantage of that, I don’t have the capital or the time to devote to it.”

While Mr Rowsthorn – now at the helm of transport operator Rivet, which emerged from the collapse of McAleese – is a seller, his Malvern opportunity speaks to Melbourne’s affordable housing dilemma and the need to generate denser housing within the inner and middle rings.

“There’s a really great opportunity to give this pretty tawdry part of Malvern a new face,” he said.

Colliers International’s Matt Stagg and Jeremy Gruzewski, in conjunction with Gross Waddell’s Jonathan McCormack and Andrew Waddell, are appointed to the Malvern property.

While Mr Rowsthorn, the former boss of rail and ports giant Asciano, is best known for his involvement in the transport sector, he has also quietly cashed in on property investment over the years.

Three years ago, he sold one of Melbourne’s best-known CBD sites, the old Savoy Tavern in Bourke Street to Singapore developer Fragrance. That site, left derelict for almost 20 years, was sold for $44.5 million after he bought it for $9.9 million in 2005.

Mr Rowsthorn is adamant he is out of the property game after he divests the Malvern site.

“The cupboard is bare. It’s my last hurrah,” he said.