Melbourne lawn bowls landmark sale to help sport roll on


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Melbourne’s second-last indoors bowls club has sold for an eye-watering figure that will help support other clubs in Melbourne. Picture: Mark Stewart

Melbourne’s longest running indoor bowls club has rolled out a crackerjack sale more than $1.2 million above expectations.

But the $10.261 million sale means that, after more than 50 years, the last bowl will be cast ahead of spring next year — and the city’s second-last indoor bowls club will be turned into apartments.

The Southern Indoor Bowls Club at 348-354 Hawthorn Rd, Caulfield South once boasted more than 1000 members and was the home ground for four-time premiership coach and VFL legend Allan Jeans.

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Club president Ted Russell said with all their members registered at other clubs across the city for summer seasons, proceeds from the sale would be handed over to help the sport live on at several beneficiary clubs to be determined in August this year.

The unique venue was previously a theatre and 10-pin bowling alley.

“We are pleased with the result, though most of the talk has been about how sad we will be to leave,” Mr Russell said.

“We will be contacting historical societies and member clubs, and there will be certain memorabilia available, but we won’t do that for another year.”

He said the club intended to hold a farewell event for the unique venue before handing over the keys in September 2020.

The size of the property appealed to a range of developers.

Originally the Camden Theatre, the 2295sq m property is zoned for commercial use but was likely to become high-end apartments for local downsizers, according to Savills director Clinton Baxter.

“They (developers) don’t always tell us what they have in mind, but it’s believed to be heading in the direction of owner occupier development,” Mr Baxter said.

It’s expected members will take home some of the furnishings as mementos.

Plans to redevelop the site will take shape over the coming 15 months.

Mr Baxter said they had been “bowled over” by developer interest, with seven of the eight groups that made offers local, including the eventual buyer.

A European corporation also made a play for the property.

The demand for all-weather bowls venues has fallen in recent years.

“There’s been virtually a 180 degree shift in confidence in the development sector of the market since the election,” Mr Baxter said.

“And this sale is clear evidence of it. In terms of land rate and values, for comparably sized properties in the area since the peak of the market (in late 2017), this sale stacks up with any of them.”

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Brighton Bowling Club is Melbourne’s only other indoor venue for the sport, with improved technology and management allowing most outdoor clubs to continue to play in any weather and limiting the need for indoor venues.

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