Former Pentridge Prison cells that once held criminals including Squizzy Taylor and Mark ‘Chopper’ Read will soon house something else that belongs behind bars.
The closed Coburg jail’s D Division cells will be transformed into wine ‘cell-ars’ and sold off, from $115,000 each, to collectors looking for a special place to store their drops.
Wine enthusiasts Paul Tardivel and Michael Woodworth bought the heritage bluestone building last year and have now launched Pentridge Cellars.
It was listed for sale in early 2018, with a $4.5 million price tag.
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They’re selling the 3m by 2m cellars with their own strata titles so buyers will actually own pieces of the historic block — a remand and execution wing before the prison’s 1997 closure where Australia’s last hanging, of Ronald Ryan, took place.
The cells will be fitted with racking for up to 2000 bottles, state-of-the-art climate control systems and ambient lighting.
But Mr Tardivel said they’d be offloaded as shells to allow buyers to personalise them for specific wine collections, colour preferences, and to include room for chairs and a table for tastings.
“You couldn’t have built it any better to be wine cellars,” Mr Tardivel said of the block.
“The cellars are made of 500mm-thick bluestone walls, which in itself keeps the wine at a cool and stable temperature.”
He likened the offerings to Victoria’s colourful beach boxes, which have a primary use as storage but have also become status symbols.
Mr Woodworth expected the rare cellars to attract “well-heeled wine lovers”, who perhaps lived in apartments in central Melbourne with no place to store their vinos.
The buyers will pay an annual strata fee of about $180 and have 24-hour access to their cellars, which will be monitored by CCTV.
While there are almost 200 cells across three floors in D Division, the business partners only have plans to sell 20 for the meantime.
Mr Tardivel said about 34 were already privately owned as wine cellars, and he and Mr Woodworth planned to retain others with a view to rent them to winemakers as “pop up stores”.
The cell block will also become home to a museum about the former prison, and be eventually offered for hire as a function space.
The broader Pentridge precinct is being redeveloped as a residential, entertainment and restaurant hub by Shayher Group.
For more information visit pentridgecellars.com