Melbourne’s only “rent free” commercial/retail building has sold. Philanthropist Phil Wollen owner of the Brunswick Street building named Kindness House in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, has handed over the building for a record $15 million.
The former Citibank vice president owned the rundown three-storey structure for 25 years, and provided a variety of activist groups “rent free’ space. The building hosted activist groups such as Greenpeace and Save the Whales.
According to Mr Wollen two-thirds of the buildings tenants paid no rent.
When asked the motivation behind the sale, Mr Wollen said that it was to raise money.
"I want to raise some capital to redeploy into some pressing projects for children, animals and the environment," he said.
Mr Wollen assures tenants that nothing will change for at least 10 years, with most of the current tenants locked into a 10 year contracted upon the sale of the building.
According to CBRE’s Jamus Campbell, the selling agent, the property sold for $14,354 per square metre, a land record for the suburb. The properties record price was driven by Melbourne’s competitive property market.
Mr Campbell suggests that the sale reflects reported developer interest in Fitzroy and surrounding suburbs.
Kindness House’s $711,000 annual income originated from the retail tenants of the building’s ground floor.
Mr Wollen said that schools, medical clinics, anti-rabies clinics and kindness farms would receive the fund from the buildings sale.