showroom

Prestige space: Dutton's showroom.

RESTAURATEURS are being offered the chance to secure a rare and sizeable spot in South Yarra's Forrest Hill foodies precinct, which is already home to stars George Calombaris, Salvatore Malatesta and Adriano Zumbo.

The eclectic food and retailing hub will see a dramatic increase in the amount of floor space available to prospective tenants as the Dutton automotive showroom is offered for lease.

Private investor Adnil (Vic) Pty Ltd recently paid about $4 million for the 848-square-metre showroom at 9-11 Claremont Street, on the corner of Yarra Lane.

CBRE is offering the space to retailers as a whole or in tenancies as small as 50 square metres. ''We have the luxury to cut the space up however we like, and are focusing on offering tenants exactly what they want,'' said associate director of retail Max Cookes. ''This is a fantastic corner opportunity for cafe, restaurateur and other retail tenants.''

Dutton, which is relocating to a new showroom in Richmond, will depart early next year. Rents are expected to range from $600-$1500 a square metre.

The Forrest Hill precinct, which is bounded by Toorak Road, Chapel Street, Alexandra Avenue and Yarra Street, has emerged as a popular foodie locale after a number of well-known chefs and restaurateurs opened in the area.

George Calombaris is believed to have waited nearly three years to set up Mama Baba on the ground-floor of the recently completed Fridcorp residential development, lilli. Calombaris paid $2.75 million for the spot, according to title records.

Others in the area include Davis Yu's Claremont Tonic, Salvatore Malatesta's MoPho Noodle Bar, and soon, a new patisserie from Zumbo.

Fridcorp chief Nigel Givoni said another high-profile foodie tenant was expected to rent the last vacant retail spot on the ground floor in lilli but refused to reveal their identity.

''It's really quite remarkable that in this little precinct some of the best restaurateurs and coffee shop operators in Melbourne have decided this is the place to be. It's all because of the demographic, the density of residences and offices - and it's still growing,'' he said.

The developer is also getting set to auction the 144-square-metre spot currently occupied by Two Birds One Stone, the team behind popular cafes Apte, Liar Liar and Three Bags Full.

CBRE is quoting $1.8 million-plus for the space, which returns a rent of $130,000 a year net. The 10-year lease, with two seven-year options, has 4 per cent fixed annual increases.

"The decade-long lease to a thriving hospitality tenant offers security to investors, while the dual titles afford outstanding long-term flexibility to subdivide into separate retail tenancies," senior sales negotiator Josh Rutman said.

The auction will be held on November 24.

cvedelago@theage.com.au