One of Sydney's oldest pharmacies, a Washington H Soul Pattinson and Company Limited (WHSP) store, will close on June 1 following the sale of the Phoenix Building at 160 Pitt Street in Sydney's CBD.
The Pitt Street Mall heritage-listed three-storey Victorian Italianate building was bought for more than $100 million by Victor Comino, the businessman who purchased George Street's Darrell Lea building in 2015. He also owns the CBD buildings occupied by Apple and Louis Vuitton.
The future of the Phoenix Building is uncertain but because it's heritage listed no major changes can be made to it. "We don't know what Victor wants to do with the building," WHSP's CEO Todd Barlow told Broadsheet.
This is the first time 160 Pitt Street has changed hands in 145 years. The store was built for Soul Pattinson in 1885 and it is the site of the company's first store. It opened in 1872 but was destroyed by fire and later rebuilt in 1877.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports it is also the first large-scale retail site to be offered for sale along the strip since November 2015, and was one of only four freehold buildings in the Pitt Street Mall retail precinct.
Pitt Street Mall has some of the most expensive retail real estate in the world. A 2017 Cushman & Wakefield report, which ranks 68 of the most expensive main streets in the world by prime rental value, ranks Sydney's Pitt Street Mall at number seven; it is worth on average $14,000 per square metre a year.
The report attributes the high rental prices to competition from international operators - such as H&M, Sephora and Swarovski - also renting space in the Mall. The high prices displace domestic retailers, which are forced into suburban shopping centres.
The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) says the building is an important contributor to the historic townscape quality of the Pitt Street Mall precinct. It recommends any future development should preserve the overall building form and scale.
"The Soul Pattinson building is noteworthy for its continuity of ownership and use, and its association with an important and well-known company reflects the major redevelopment of the city during the later decades of the 19th century," the OEH says on its website.
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