Commercial buildings in the award-winning NewActon precinct are likely to be under new ownership by the end of the year as innovative developer and property manager Molonglo Group switches its full attention to its next big project at Dairy Road in the East Lake area.
Molonglo hopes to reap more than $330 million from the sale of the Nishi buildings and the heritage pavilion, including the retail kiosk and the gallery in the John Avery Gardens.
Nishi is home to the Ovolo hotel, federal government departments, Clayton Utz and the Palace Electric cinema, while across the road, tenants include Peppers hotel, Morning Glory and the Parlour Wine Room.
NewActon contains about 30 businesses, 750 residents and 1200 workers.
The company is keen to protect its legacy and see continuity for its tenants, opting for an Expression of Interest process managed by JLL and supported by Colliers International rather than going to auction.
It said in a statement that the decision to sell the commercial assets of NewActon had been a difficult one.
“Our affection for our first precinct runs deep and we are proud of what has been created,” the company said. “We are excited to find the right custodians and watch its next chapter unfold, shaped by others in ways we ourselves might not have imagined.
“The right custodians committed to maintaining the ongoing cultural programming at NewActon, with young ideas and new skills and energy to find even better ways in which to operate, maintain and manage the precinct and take care of its tenants.”
The director creative operations at Molonglo, Dan Honey, said the company had been pulling back slowly from NewActon in recent years and now was the right time to pivot to the new project at Dairy Road, which will see massive change over the next 15 years and require time and resources.
She sought to reassure tenants and visitors that the precinct would continue to be an attractive and interesting place to work and play.
“We have really worked hard to identify really reputable building owners that we think can continue on what’s been built,” she said. “We’re going for people with strong expertise in property management.”
She said the community of businesses and residents in NewActon was now self-sustaining and the precinct was in a place to direct its own success. The impact of a change of owner on tenants should be minimal.
Molonglo expected the sale process to conclude towards the end of the year, followed by a handover.
Ms Honey said none of the residential properties were for sale.
Molongo is a privately owned development business managed by Johnathan Efkarpidis, Nectar Efkarpidis and Nikos Kalogeropoulos. It purchased NewActon in 1996 and after eight years of planning, commenced construction of the first building in 2006. The final large addition, the Nishi building, was completed in 2013, and the latest, the tiny Goodspeed bike shop, was completed in 2015.
Molonglo has continued to shape and evolve the precinct years after the completion of the final building, including the opening of creative studios, the introduction of retail micro-tenancies and programming such as markets, talks, festivals and exhibitions.
It has operated several businesses within the precinct including Hotel Hotel (now Ovolo), Mocan and Greengrout, Nishi Gallery and Monster kitchen and bar. Hotel Hotel was reported by the media to have changed the face of hospitality in Australia.
The NewActon precinct and its buildings have received more than 25 awards by peak design bodies and is credited as evolving the possibilities for a mixed-use development.
After the sale, Molonglo will focus on the 14-hectare Dairy Road neighbourhood where several new building commissions are underway, including an experimental pavilion by Chilean architects Pezo von Ellrichshausen that includes a native garden linking the landscape of Dairy Road with the adjacent wetlands.
Ms Honey said Dairy Road would be an integrated neighbourhood where residents would eventually live side by side with artists, artisans and a diverse range of businesses.