Abbotsford’s former Schweppes’ cordial factory listed

6 February 2024

Abbotsford’s historic Schweppes’ cordial factory, home to owner occupier James Richardson Group (JR/Group) for the last 50 years, has hit the market.

As the largest Mixed Use Zoned parcel in Abbotsford the property is expected to attract a high level of interest from both residential apartment developers and occupier groups seeking character filled creative office space.

Built circa 1886 by Jacob Schweppe, the 35-45 Lithgow Street property, currently JR/Group’s head office, comprises a 5728 square metre building over two levels on a Mixed Use zoned, 3098 square metre site. The site comprises five titles with over 75 metres of frontage to Lithgow Street as well as Little Lithgow Street at the rear.

Cera Stribley Architects have prepared a concept design for a residential redevelopment of the site retaining the original street wall and gabled slate roof enveloping the site. The proposed scheme allows unobstructed views from new apartments toward Melbourne’s CBD as well as the Yarra and Abbotsford Convent.

The existing building is predominately owner-occupied with office and showroom space and a short-term lease.

JR/Group’s General Manager of Property, James Aldred said “James Richardson Group has been a proud custodian of 35-45 Lithgow St, Abbotsford through the group’s evolution over the past fifty years. The property is exceptionally well positioned for residential redevelopment and in recent years has become surplus to our requirements. We’re focused on new developments within our commercial, retail and industrial portfolio but enthusiastic to see a new owner realise the property’s full potential.”

According to marketing agents, Teska Carson’s Michael Taylor, Michael Ludski and Luke Bisset in conjunction with JLL’s Josh Rutman, Jesse Radisich and Tim Carr, the property presents an array of options to a wide range of potential purchasers via a local, national and international marketing campaign.

“The James Richardson building provides owner-occupiers, investors and developers with a unique opportunity to create something special in what has become one of Melbourne’s most favoured city-fringe precincts.

“As the home of the Schweppe’s cordial factory, and more recently the JR/Group, the building has enormous aesthetic appeal, but it also generates interest on the development front at a time when undersupply of new high quality residential stock is driving growth in residential apartment revenues. Abbotsford as a location is rapidly emerging as a prime city-fringe address,” Mr. Taylor said.

He said options, subject to council approval, may include creative uses along the lines of other local character buildings such as the Denton Hat Mills redevelopment of five and potentially seven levels, and/or subdivision for a variety of uses.

“The very successful reinvention of the Denton Hat Mills springs to mind as one use of an historically significant local building, while redevelopment in the form of an exciting new Melbourne destination and subdivision of the Mixed-Use site would also present a number of options to developers,” Mr. Taylor said.

The property is close to the Yarra Trail, numerous lifestyle and hospitality venues, as well as various transport options including trams, Collingwood railway station, Hoddle Street and the Eastern Freeway whilst being just two kilometres from the CBD. It is also within easy reach of Richmond’s popular dining and fashion precincts and Melbourne’s key entertainment and recreational destinations including the MCG, Rod Laver Arena and the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Mr. Rutman said the enormous potential development upside was something which would draw significant interest from local, interstate and off-shore development groups looking to take advantage of Melbourne’s reputation as one of the world’s most liveable cities.

“Melbourne has established a reputation right across the Asia-Pacific as a very safe place to deliver successful commercial property projects based on solid property fundamentals as well as its stable political and economic climate and its obvious residential drawing power as it proceeds to overtake Sydney as Australia’s most populated city.

“There is no doubt the campaign is going to draw in local and interstate occupier, investment, and development groups, but we also expect a sizeable international contingent to be there at the business end,” Mr. Rutman said.

Mr. Taylor said the property’s prime city-fringe location with regard to public transport and other essential amenities was another significant selling point.

“Abbotsford has been an almost hidden gem that has recently begun to attract a lot more attention as a more affordable option than its better-known neighbours in Collingwood and Richmond.

“It is so close to all the amenities that Richmond, one of Melbourne’s most vibrant and prosperous inner suburbs, offers and of course also within easy commuting distance of the CBD, via trams, trains and major roads, and of course Melbourne’s premium sporting and entertainment facilities,” Mr. Taylor said.

The property will be sold by Expressions of Interest closing at 2pm on March 8, 2024.