‘Crazy price’ puts off Chinese developer at Darlinghurst auction

The Shanghai-based developer was dead keen ahead of the auction of the Darlinghurst corner site, not far from where Tilly Devine ran one of her illegal brothels.
These days, it would be criminal for 89 Crown Street – the former Il Vicoletto restaurant where Papa Luciano did a mean Bolognese – not to be an apartment block.
Jay Kang, who heads to Sydney from Shanghai every three months looking for the next opportunity, has already built some big apartment blocks in Eastwood and Penrith.
He thought the $3.5 million that CBRE agents Michael Khouri, Gemma Isgro and Nicholas Heaton had been quoting was on the money.
But bidding at Friday’s on-site auction, which attracted about 80 people and eight active participants, flew way beyond his expectations and a local consortium bought the property for $4.87 million.
Il Vicoletto restaurant, Darlinghurst, before it closed. Photo: SuppliedIl Vicoletto restaurant, Darlinghurst, before it closed. Photo: Supplied
“That’s a crazy price,” said Kang, who didn’t bid and will now resume his search. Though he says there are slim pickings.
It was advertised as a “boutique unit site development” with a 22-metre height limit. Auctioneer David Scholes had said early on of the 239-square-metre site: “You’d have no trouble selling the 10 proposed apartments very smartly off the plan.”
Rabah Maraby, of Dot Design Group, who had thought the site would be perfect for his offices with some apartments above, had made the opening bid of $3.1 million and another at $3.4 million.
But he was blown away by the next offer of $4 million.
The property at 89 Crown Street, Darlinghurst, sold under the hammer for $4.87 million. Photo: SuppliedAuctioneer David Scholes: “You’d have no trouble selling the 10 proposed apartments very smartly off the plan.” Photo: Supplied
CBRE said they couldn’t disclose the reserve. And the man acting for the actual buyer, the private local consortium, said he couldn’t reveal his client’s plans for the site.
“Almost $5 million – that’s a big price,” said Peter Metzner of the Arc Factory, who bought the block right behind at 58 Riley Street about a decade ago. He’s about to convert that site, which has been his office, into a six-storey commercial building.

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