The Rex sold to Hepburn Shire locals

Published on 22 December 2022

The fa├žade of the Rex building in Vincent street Daylesford

Hepburn Shire Council has named local entrepreneurs and businesspeople Eddy and Malinka Comelli and David and Yuge Bromley as the successful bidders in the purchase of The Rex building in Vincent Street, Daylesford, following a public expression of interest process.

The building sold for $3.75 million. This was above the reserve price of $3.7 million, which was set in accordance with an independent property valuation and the requirements of the Local Government Act 2020.

There was substantial interest in the purchase, and Council received six formal submissions during the Expression of Interest (EOI) process.

Mayor, Cr Brian Hood, said the sale of the building marks the beginning of a new chapter for this unique heritage property. 

“The Comelli and Bromley submission was very strong. Their unconditional offer was clearly the preferred bid, and their submission outlined a strong desire to redevelop this property in a way that will benefit our community,” he said.

Both the Comelli and Bromley families live in Daylesford and have strong connections in the local community. They said they are looking forward to working to making the most of The Rex’s potential.

“With both of our families local to the Daylesford community, the honour of purchasing and developing this iconic building into a thriving destination spot for both locals and visitors alike was our key driver,” said Yuge Bromley on behalf of the group.

“We are truly honoured to have the privilege of purchasing this building.  We will take time to regroup and plan but our intention is to tap into our combined passions, connections and resources to transform the building into an evolving dining, retail and entertainment destination with a diversity of culture, food, art, music and entertainment,” said Ms Bromley.

“We have some initial plans regarding the arcade and atrium, making it a place where visitors local and from afar can frequent time and time again.

“Our driving goal is to create a space that our children and grandchildren can look to with pride for what the combined energies of the Comelli and Bromley families can bring to fruition.”

Cr Hood noted that any works that fall outside the existing planning permit would require planning approvals including heritage, which is separate to the sale process.

“The sale proceeds will be used to repay the loan linked to the purchase of the site and remaining funds will be allocated into a financial reserve for future expenditure on staff accommodation and community facilities,” said Cr Hood.

“We have already begun our planning, and we will progress our investigation into options for staff accommodation and community facilities throughout 2023. This will include community consultation,” he said.

Council’s principal objectives of the sale process were to identify a proponent with the financial capacity to purchase the land and develop the property; identify a proposal which provides an economic and social benefit for the local community; respond to the Council Plan; and achieve an optimal financial return to Council.

“This was a complex decision-making process and these four criteria were always priorities for Council,” said Cr Hood.

Councillors accepted the officers’ recommendation and voted unanimously in favour of selling The Rex to the Comelli and Bromley families.

The EOI and sale process was overseen by an independent probity advisor to ensure the transparency and integrity of the sale process. The marketing and sale campaign was managed by Fitzroys Real Estate Agent.

Cr Hood acknowledged the challenging history of the building since Council purchased it in 2016.

“The decision to sell The Rex was a complex one and we appreciate there has been considerable interest in the building, its legacy and the sale process. We are optimistic that the Comelli and Bromley families will breathe new life into this historic building in the heart of Daylesford,” he said.

Council’s original purchase of The Rex building in 2016 and other matters relating to the Hepburn at The Hub project remain under investigation by the Local Government Inspectorate. Council has cooperated fully with the investigation, repeatedly called for the release of the report and will welcome the release of the inspectorate report.

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