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Heritage on The Block as property magnate sells

The Block’s contestants will have to cope with heritage-building related restrictions next time around. 164 Inglis Street in Port Melbourne.

164 Inglis Street in Port Melbourne.

Property magnate and BRW rich-lister Harry Stamoulis is about $5 million richer after selling a heritage art deco factory to Channel 9’s popular reality show, The Block.

The sale follows another large transaction reported by Fairfax Media this week in which Mr Stamoulis quietly offloaded the Vogue Shopping Plaza in South Yarra for $92 million to MTAA Super in an off-market deal on New Year’s Eve.

The Block’s producers are believed to have snapped up the imposing, heritage protected building at 164 Inglis Street in Port Melbourne, although industry sources suggest the deal has not yet become unconditional.

Last year’s season of the popular TV renovation show saw contestants renovating the seedy Hotel Saville, an iconic if somewhat ugly octagonal building on the corner of busy Commercial and Punt roads.

The show paid $6.25 million two years ago for the tawdry eight-level tower at 5 Commercial Road, near The Alfred hospital.

A future series of The Block is likely to focus on the Port Melbourne building which is part of the former Symex soap factory site and was constructed in the 1920s as the factory’s administration office.

The building has a unique stepped-back entrance, balustrades, tiling and other features that will impose significant heritage constraints and challenges for the show’s contestants and producers.

Mr Stamoulis purchased the Symex site for $25 million in 2013, just days before it was rezoned for residential development by the former Liberal government under planning changes to the Fishermans Bend precinct.

His company, Stamoulis Property Group, is developing 287 townhouses on the surrounding former factory site opposite the Port Melbourne Cricket Oval that are scheduled for completion in late 2017.

Estate agent Walter Occhiuto from Dawkins Occhiuto would not comment on the sale but the agency listed the building as being under “contract” on its website.

The sales price, believed to be around $5 million, was higher than the suggested $4.5 million quoted during the marketing campaign which focused on the building’s development potential for office or hotel accommodation.

Mr Stamoulis has been one of the market’s most active players, almost completing a full re-weighting of his property portfolio.

The sale of Vogue Plaza, which is anchored by a Big W outlet, Woolworths, Guardian childcare centre and other speciality stores, allowed Mr Stamoulis to recycle cash into the One Collins Street tower complex. Mr Stamoulis paid $125 million for the prestigious Collins Street property, on a very tight 5.25 per cent yield late last year.

His company also recently sold 277 William Street to EG Funds Management for $45.9 million and another office, 120 Spencer Street, is under offer for about $165 million.

The Stamoulis family fortune was originally struck in the Gold Medal soft drink empire, established by the late Spiros Stamoulis. The business was sold to Cadbury Schweppes in 2004 with the cash ploughed into a property development and investment company. Harry Stamoulis took control after his father’s death in 2007. His new $70 million mansion on St Georges Road, constructed over three years, is modelled on the Rhode Island mansion owned by the wealthy US Vanderbilt family.

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