Larry Schlesinger | 21 November 2012

Lonely Planet Melbourne headquarters relisted with $16.4 million hopes

Fund manager the Trilogy Capital Group has relisted the global headquarters of travel guide publisher Lonely Planet in Footscray following an unsuccessful six month sales campaign last year.

Lonely Planet, which is owned by the BBC, has leased the distinctive red-brick campus office building since 2000 and has another four years to go on its current lease.

The four-level building comprises a total lettable area of approximately 7,374 square metres, with ground-floor parking for 86 cars and a small warehouse distribution centre on-site.

The lease agreement includes annual rental increases of 3.5%, with Lonely Planet paying a current net passing rental of $1.64 million per annum.

The property at 90 Maribynong Road is the sole asset that makes up Trilogy’s Melbourne campus office syndicate, a five-year fixed-term investment fund, which returned 9.82% in the 12 months to March.

Trilogy acquired the building for $14.4 million in mid-2005 and will be hoping for around $16.4 million, representing a yield of around 10%.

It was listed for sale from April to October last year with a slightly higher asking price of $17 million but failed to sell.

Trilogy head of property assets David Hogan says the fund decided to put it back on the market due to the improved market conditions compared with a year ago.

The property is being marketed by Colliers International agents Peter Bremner and Jeremy Gruzewski.

Gruzewski says the building had been refurbished to meet Lonely Planet’s requirements and has been maintained to an incredibly high standard.

Externally, the building has an appealing brick period-style façade, however it is the unique, lofty internal open plan office accommodation that really sets this building apart from every other office building in the metropolitan office market,” he said.

“In addition, the top floor boasts stunning views back towards the Melbourne CBD skyline.”

Gruzewski says the property represented a rare opportunity for an astute investor to purchase a high yielding, fully leased commercial property less than 5km from the Melbourne CBD in a rapidly growing and thriving suburb.

“Footscray is transforming itself into a vibrant activity centre,” he said.

The three upper floors incorporate an open plan office space as well as a rooftop staff room/canteen, gymnasium and entertainment/recreation area.

Having shrunk its staff numbers by around 70 in 2011 (15% of its workforce), Lonely Planet is seeking to sub-lease up to 1,500 square metres of the first floor of the building, with the space being marketed by Richard Norman and Matthew Collins of Jones Lang LaSalle at around $200 per square metre.

The property is for sale by expressions of interest, closing Thursday December 6 at 4pm.

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