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Melbourne council acquires iconic 1920s cinema

By Orana Durney-Benson
08 February 2024 | 10 minute read
wyndham city picture palais reb j3ojat

A south-west Melbourne council has purchased an important slice of local history as part of its multimillion-dollar revitalisation of the Werribee town centre.

Wyndham City Council beat out several offers by competitors to purchase the landmark Picture Palais building for $4.4 million.

“This was an incredibly rare chance to own a piece of Werribee’s history,” said Chris Kombi, director of commercial real estate agency Fitzroys.

“We received multiple offers during the successful expressions of interest campaign, with interest coming from a range of investors.”

In recent years, Wyndham City has put significant investment into Werribee’s city centre, including the reactivation of several historical properties and a $13 million redevelopment of Wyndham Park.

Mr Kombi shared that Wyndham City “ultimately thought it would be fantastic for the area and the community to have this slice of local history in council’s hands” in order to ensure that the “Werribee landmark will be preserved for the long term”.

The Picture Palais was first built around 1928, and spent much of its early life as a cinema and theatre. Today, it sits on a generous 800-square-metre site with close proximity to the Werribee train station and a council car park.

Mr Kombi said: “The Picture Palais played a huge role in the cultural life of Werribee as it transformed from a rural township into a major suburb and commercial centre of Melbourne’s south-west.”

In the transaction, Fitzroys acted on behalf of the Carter family, who have a significant historical presence in the local area.

As early as the 1870s, the Carter family were active in the local economy as successful poultry farmers, and eventually built many iconic Werribee buildings, including the heritage-listed Roland Carter House and Villa Franca.

Mr Kombi stated: “Werribee is currently undergoing a period of revitalisation and development as both it and Wyndham experience unprecedented population growth.”

“The interest in the campaign clearly reflected that Werribee is now the commercial and cultural centre of Wyndham, having developed a retail, office and lifestyle offering that draws and services residents, workers and students locally and from the surrounding suburbs,” he said.

As well as giving the council access to a historic local landmark, the acquisition of the Picture Palais building will provide them with a reliable source of rental income.

“Currently occupied by ASX-listed Cash Converters, the asset also gives the council a secure income stream from a high-quality tenant,” said Mr Kombi.

Melbourne council acquires iconic 1920s cinema
wyndham city picture palais reb j3ojat
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