Remarkable city fringe opportunity overlooking Carlton Gardens hits the market

13 October 2023

An exceptionally rare opportunity to acquire a major CBD gateway property suited to a broad range of uses and positioned directly opposite Melbourne’s famous Carlton Gardens has come to the market.

Fitzroys Chris James, David Bourke and Ben Liu are managing the Expressions of Interest campaign for 38-44 Nicholson Street, Fitzroy on behalf of community housing provider Unison, with the campaign closing on 16 November.

Situated at the northeastern gateway of the Melbourne CBD and overlooking the Carlton Gardens, the offering comprises a grand 1850s Victorian structure of two substantial interconnected three-storey buildings totaling 2,250sqm, which has been adapted to rooming house accommodation and provides a range of accommodation styles across 52 rooms.

“We’re expecting a range of buyers groups, given the site’s Commercial 1 zoning and enormous scope to repurpose for a range of alternate uses such as boutique accommodation, medical, office, education, repurposing for residences, specialist accommodation, and potential for redevelopment (STPA)” Bourke said.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure a landmark property and position opposite the Carlton Gardens and close to world-class lifestyle and hospitality amenity. It’s surrounded by iconic Melbourne’s landmarks including The Royal Exhibition Building and Melbourne Museum and is within walking distance to the Melbourne’s Theatre and entertainment precinct, the city centre and its East End, Parliament train station, as well as the eclectic retail and lifestyle precincts of Gertrude Street, Brunswick Street and Smith Street.”

“This part of Melbourne is incredibly tightly held.”

Bourke said the site is well-suite to medical and education users given its location in a health and education precinct with major institutions nearby including St Vincent’s Hospital, the Eye and Ear Hospital, and Epworth Freemasons Hospital, in addition to numerous specialist clinics and consulting rooms that cater to the various health institutions nearby, while Melbourne University, RMIT University and Australian Catholic University are all in proximity.

“Operators could also consider student accommodation as a potential use for the site, given its location near major universities and amenity, and the chronic shortage of student accommodation1 amid the ongoing return of international students and record number of new visas being issued,” Bourke said.

Chris James noted that the site was also primed for repurposing as private residences to cater for the strong demand for housing from Melbourne’s growing population seeking to take advantage of the amenity of the location.

Unison CEO James King said, “Unison’s decision to sell marks the end of a Victorian Government-endorsed strategy following a 2016 review commission by Yarra Community Housing (now Unison Housing) of Unison-owned property. Under the strategy, rooming houses which were no longer fit for purpose, would be sold and the proceeds used to deliver modern self-contained housing for our residents. To date, Unison has delivered 216 new units with proceeds of the sales combined with other funding streams, with houses in Footscray, Fairfield, Heidelberg Heights and two locations in Werribee.”

The property is believed to be the second-ever documented house in Fitzroy2. It was first known as Helena House, with the original section constructed in 1850 in the Regency style by William Pelling for John MacPherson. The house was home to a premier, a businessman and briefly, French violinist and composer Horace Poussard. It was acquired in 1887 by Melbourne merchant and speculator George Nipper who expanded the property in the conservative Classical mode and converted it to a boarding house. It then became known as Osborne House.