Former Richmond brothel on auction block after transformation

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234 Coppin St, Richmond has been dramatically transformed to shed its previous life as a brothel and squatters’ den.

Prominent photographer Shane Monopoli will have a shot at selling a former Richmond brothel, which he transformed into a sleek commercial space, under the hammer.

The Exclusive Photography founder — once a regular on Bert Newton’s Good Morning Australia — has $1.6-$1.75 million price hopes for 234 Coppin St’s 1pm auction on September 6.

He has changed tact after initially listing the late-1800s terrace via an expressions of interest campaign with a $2-$2.2 million guide.

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Shane Monopoli and his wife outside 234 Coppin St, Richmond after he bought it at auction in 2017.

The facade before Mr Monopoli’s transformation.

Mr Monopoli spent a year and a half restoring and renovating the Victorian, which was “derelict” when he bought it following a sordid past as one of Melbourne’s first legalised brothels and a squatters’ haunt.

He bought it as a base for his photography business, which has previously snapped stars including Elton John, Joan Rivers and Olivia Newton-John.

But he now needs a bigger studio space.

The building was one home to brothel Club 234. Picture: Shane Monopoli

There was no hiding the building’s past when Mr Monopoli took it over. Picture: Shane Monopoli

The sleek upstairs studio today, following the owner’s reno.

RT Edgar selling agent Brett Vanderwert said the market had changed since the property first hit the market, with the first half of this year marred by “a lot of uncertainty” caused by the federal election and banking royal commission.

“It affected the residential market, but also commercial,” he said.

“Now that’s subsided, it’s business as usual.”

The property’s brothel past was obvious when Mr Monopoli bought it for $1.102 million in early 2017 — a sign bearing its name, “Club 234”, remained on site, along with rooms labelled “pleasure”, “sin” and “lust”.

The entry hallway before it was renovated … Picture: Shane Monopoli

… and after,

The two-storey Victorian with heritage overlay had been vacant for some time when the photographer took it on, with squatters leaving behind rubbish, broken glass and syringes.

“There were holes in the ceilings and walls, the carpet smelled, there were hundreds and hundreds of needles, and bags and bags of garbage, (and) there was no power connected,” Mr Monopoli previously told the Herald Sun.

“I’m creative, so I could see past it all. Everyone said I was crazy — only my wife backed me up.”

The kitchen before Mr Monopoli’s transformation … Picture: Shane Monopoli

… and after.

The kitchen and dining space from another angle.

It now has polished hardwood floors, eye-catching chandeliers, 3m-high ceilings, fireplaces and a grand staircase.

The upstairs studio’s walls deliberately feature broken plaster to create a “rustic, industrial sort of look”.

Office space, a kitchen, bathrooms and a balcony complete the building.

The property is due to be auctioned on September 6.

It offers stylish office spaces.

The make-up room for Mr Monopoli’s photography business.

Mr Vanderwert said owner-occupier buyers were eyeing the Commercial 1 zoned property as a site for consulting firms and offices, with some investors interested as well.

Its location near Swan St and East Richmond and Burnley stations, plus its “high quality renovation” had been the main drawcards.

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The reno involved clearing out bags of rubbish. Picture: Shane Monopoli

The reno in progress. Picture: Shane Monopoli

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