Merivale sale shows resilience of Potts Point property market

Media reports may lead you to believe that the Sydney property market is uniformly weak right now. One record sale we helped achieve last week proves there is still strong demand for the right property marketed the right way.

The Merivale Building at 61-63 Macleay Street is a three-level property. Like many properties in our vibrant area, it comes with a fascinating history and was designed in the Federation arts and crafts style by well-known architect, Maurice Halligan. Before the sale, it had been in the Hemmes family for 31 years.

Given the high level of buyer interest, we originally chose to list the Merivale Building for auction.  But, just hours before the hammer was due to fall, we helped negotiate an offer on the property which exceeded the vendor’s expectations by some distance.

While we cannot disclose the sale price, you can read what Domain had to say on the sale here. We’re proud to have helped our vendor achieve this fantastic result – one which we believe should go some way to shifting perceptions of what’s possible in today’s market.

If you’d like to know how this fantastic result affects the value of your property, get in touch.

61-63 Macleay Street Potts Point is known by long-time locals as “The Merivale Building”.

It sits on the prime corner of Macleay Street and Challis Avenue in the heart of Potts Point. And it’s not just the location that’s notable – if these walls could talk they’d have plenty to tell…

It’s not often such a landmark building comes on the market – in fact the last time 61-63 Macleay Street was on offer was 31 years ago, when the Hemmes family purchased it for $1.428 million in 1988. And that’s where the history of this building becomes intertwined with one of Sydney’s most well-known families.

The Hemmes Family

John and Merivale Hemmes had opened iconic fashion retail shop, The House of Merivale, on Castlereagh Street in 1959, before moving the business to Pitt Street in 1969. They also introduced a men’s fashion label, Mr John. But their first foray into hospitality was in 1970 when they opened a Thai tea café within their six-story Sydney CBD fashion building. And it all grew from there.

61-63 Macleay Street is not just one of the family’s longest held property assets, it was also home to one of their restaurants, The Merivale Brasserie. The Hemmes reportedly spent over $1 million renovating the old Giraffe restaurant, before opening Merivale Brasserie in 1994. It quickly became an institution, and is why long-time Potts Point locals know this corner as “The Merivale Building”. In 2002 another Merivale restaurant, Lotus, opened on the site.

The Merivale Group, now under the directorship of their son, Justin Hemmes, currently owns over 70 pubs, restaurants, bars and other venues. One of them – The Fish Shop – is a tenant of 61-63 Macleay Street. They also run Ms.G’s on nearby Victoria Street.

The building’s history

According to Andrew Woodhouse from Heritage Solutions, 61-63 Macleay Street was originally part of suite of ten terrace houses built in 1897. The terraces faced Macleay Street, and extended from Challis Avenue to McDonald Street. The larger site was later subdivided and the streetscape at ground level altered over the years. But you can still see the parapets of the original buildings along Macleay Street if you look up.

The building was designed in the Federation arts and crafts style by well-known architect, Maurice Halligan. Halligan was also responsible for co-designing nearby apartment building Kingsclere and hotels including the The Observer, the Newmarket, The Fitzroy and The Dunbar Hotel.

Despite alterations over the years, the building still remains elements of the original period character features, like the terracotta chimney pots, stucco façade, an iron laced balcony, marble fireplace, double hung wooden sash windows and deep skirting boards.

The building today

Fast forward several decades, and the ground floor of the building is currently home to Merivale restaurant, The Fish Shop, and a luxury clothing and interiors boutique, Arida. The first and second floors are residential, comprising of 2 x two bedroom apartments and 2 x three bedroom apartments, which look out over the plane trees and local area.

Article by Jason Boon

In a real estate market that is the focus of Australian, and indeed worldwide attention, Jason Boon's results in the Sydney scene make him a highly significant figure within the industry. A long-term specialist in the Potts Point and inner eastern suburbs area, he is uniquely placed to leverage his skills and local knowledge as the area undergoes significant change and diversification. Jason ha…