Markham, a Sydney-based company specializing in property investment and commercial property management, acquired the high-profile Pier 8/9 in 2018 for $90.5 million.
There was a lot of talk about the purchase at the time. Just 4 years later, in a turbulent environment for premium CBD commercial real estate, it is now listed on Savills for over $100 million.
Apparently you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet
Markham bought the site fully leased and intends to sell it as such, but what could account for a +$10m increase in value given commercial office space is certainly not ‘Flavour of the month‘ in Sydney CBD real estate?
One way to increase the value of the property is to increase the rent, even during the pandemic when trading a coffee shop has been virtually impossible.
One obstacle in Markham’s path was cafe owner, 58-year-old Andrew Malanos, who was about to retire. An opportune moment came in the way of a burst sewer pipe on Markham’s property, causing $50,000 in damage to the Malanos-run cafe and making operations unsafe. Rather than help Malanos fix the problem, Markham issued $46,000 in rent bills over a two-month period and threatened to bankrupt the aging cafe owner if it wasn’t paid promptly.
“Pay the rent or get out”
The NSW Government’s rent relief expired on 1 July 2022 and Markham wasted little time in giving Malanos an ultimatum to “pay the rent or get out” and issued the elderly cafe owner a 5-day eviction notice ( and payment of a $28,000 surrender fee) or go bankrupt as a result of the lease.
“I had invested my entire life savings and used my superpower to survive Covid and keep our staff – I couldn’t believe a landlord could be so ruthless. said Malanos.
Play them off against each other
While Malanos was still on the lease, Markham had entered into a letter of intent with Elements Bar and Grill for a new lease at $30,000 a month to secure resale value.
That’s certainly a lot of cappuccinos to serve considering the main tenant had his own coffee shop (free for staff) and barely 30% of the tenants immediately returned to the building daily making the coffee shop unprofitable.
Is Pier 8/9 a Good Buy? Analysts aren’t so sure
A buyer would be well advised to undertake due diligence beyond what is typically expected for a transaction of this size.
Markham is quickly gaining a reputation as a company willing to destroy livelihoods on its way to super profits, and the purchase price may not be justified considering Markham “juiced the lemon” in the run-up to the sale.