Vibrant Italian food market to fill Collins St Art Deco gem


Its 1300 square metre shopping space, large by Collins Street retail standards, is the result of an audacious multi-year property play by the strata-titled building’s controlling owner.

A family dines at the Mercato Centrale in Milan.Credit:

Over a period of several years, one of the CBD’s largest private landlords Harry Chua accumulated multiple small titles in the McPherson building to gain control of the group floor which, before the pandemic, was filled with a chaotic medley of run-down lunchtime eateries.

The prime 10-year lease for the premium space was negotiated under a licence agreement with the Italian owners of Mercato Centrale through Cushman & Wakefield’s Michael Di Carlo, Stephanie Harding and Cam Taranto.

Ms Harding said there were a number of inquiries from multiple big box operators looking for space at that end of the city. “The rejuvenation of the western core from the multiple developments along Collins Street will offer lots of new retail opportunities,” she said.

The operator behind the licence, Eddie Muto, will begin fitting out the new venue with input from the franchise’s Italian owners and expects it to open before the end of the year.

Mr Muto’s Barman & Larder group has launched many Melbourne restaurants and hospitality venues including Flour Child in St Kilda, Left Bank on South Bank, Metropolis Events and Q Events.

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The aim of the space was to enable high-quality artisans to easily sell their wares, he said.

“We build and pay for everything. The only thing they’re responsible for is their product and staff. It facilitates people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to open a store,” he said.

The venue will have a distinctly Roman focus, to the point where visitors are greeted in Italian.

The main hall at the Mercato Centrale in Florence.

The main hall at the Mercato Centrale in Florence.Credit:

Mr Muto said he held the Mercato Centrale licence for Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan and intended to open at least one store in each of those countries within the next five years.

Two major developments are underway in the same midtown city block as McPhersons.

Next door, US real estate giant Hines has dumped plans for a Zaha Hadid-designed building – which was going to be the country’s first Mandarin Oriental hotel – at 600 Collins Street and replaced it with a $1 billion-plus office tower.

Hines’ first foray in Melbourne will involve uprooting multiple small tenancies that operate on the building’s ground floor where they service the pedestrians flowing to and from Southern Cross Station.

And on the corner of King and Collins, Charter Hall is well advanced on a 34 level premium office tower, the first stage of its 555 Collins redevelopment that will eventually create 84,000 sq m of premium office space and more than 2300 sq m of retail in a $1.5 billion project.

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