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Capital Gain: Dairy Bell sells headquarters to Little Projects

The Sydney Morning Herald

The owners of ice-cream institution Dairy Bell have offloaded the company’s high-profile Malvern East headquarters, after announcing earlier this month they would close the 45-year-old business.

The off-market sale gives control of the 3000-square-metre site to burgeoning local developer Little Projects, backed by former Toll Holdings chief Paul Little, whose estimated net worth is about $715 million and growing.

Opposite the East Malvern railway station and Waverley Oval, Dairy Bell’s white manufacturing plant and office is expected to be replaced with a medium-density apartment block with lower-level shops.

The Commercial 1 zoned property abuts an edge of a small retail strip on Waverley Road but also has access to Belgrave Road and Sycamore Street. Chadstone Shopping Centre, Holmesglen TAFE and the M1 Freeway are a short distance away.

Melbourne Acquisitions’ Dominic Gibson, Rick Silberman and Steve Messina declined to comment about the off-market campaign.

Dairy Bell, which is fully solvent, cited excessive penalty rates in the face of falling profits, led by a supermarket ice-cream war, for its closure.

At the time, the ice-creamery owners made reference to the redevelopment potential of the company’s Melbourne and Sydney sites, which was perhaps enough to pique the interest of Little Projects, an active off-market buyer.

Late last year, Little Projects teamed with Freemasons Victoria to co-develop two former Masonic centres in Box Hill and Kew East, not offered publicly.

The developer also acquired a site at the Docklands end of Fishermans Bend and recently paid nearly $20 million for the outgoing Thomas Dux supermarket site in Bridge Road, Richmond.

Little Projects has redeveloped the former Tip Top bread factory in Brunswick East and a former Telstra exchange tower in Toorak Road, often described as South Yarra’s ugliest building.

Mr Little is speculated to own Melbourne’s most expensive home, Coonac, in Toorak, which agents said would sell for more than $50 million if offered.

Since retiring from the supply chain empire in 2012 after 26 years, Mr Little has focused on other ventures, including the successful development business run by another former Toll executive, Michael Fox.

He has also taken up the high-profile chairman role with the Essendon Football Club.

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