Melbourne Chinatown building sells for $2.7 million

A heritage listed freestanding building in Melbourne’s Chinatown has sold after auction for $2.7 million, according to industry sources.

The last freestanding commercial building like this to come to auction in Chinatown was in 2003. This latest auction attracted 120 people and six bidders – four Chinese, one Malaysian and one local. The local ended up buying the property but has not disclosed their intentions.

It passed in at $2.35 million.

“We’re starting to see non property people consider the purchase of commercial investments in the CBD as a genuine alternative to cash deposits, the volatile share market and straight residential investment, which is driving competition for assets when they come to the market,” CBRE agent Josh Rutman says.

The building, at 11 Heffernan Lane (pictured above) was built in 1891 for solicitor M Mornane as a four level brick warehouse.


It was then occupied by the Wing Ching café in 1892 run by Ah Gee.

Between 1900 and 1915 it was occupied by Quon Che On Café and then Chung Wah Café – which at one point was the only remaining Chinese café in the street. According to historian Weston Bate, it “helped to wean Melburnians from European cuisine”.

The upper floors were used as warehouse space and the still visible gantry beam was used for hoisting goods up.

The building was damaged by a fire in 2010 but has been fully refurbished.

In October 2012 it was taken to market with an asking price of $3.3 million, though it was marketed directly by the owner in a different campaign.

It’s next door to the New Kum Den café.

The lane was named in 1857 after Rolly Heffernan, owner of the Melbourne Hotel in Lonsdale Street.

It was home to several Chinese restaurants in the early 1900s.

The building has an existing liquor license and a potential income of $200,000 per annum.

The fully restored building was marketed to suit retail, commercial and residential uses. It is on a 113 square metre lot.

It was sold by Josh Rutman from CBRE.

Alistair Walsh

Alistair Walsh

Deutsche Welle online reporter

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