The Fortitude Valley property with a dubious past at 144 Wickham St.
The Fortitude Valley property with a dubious past at 144 Wickham St.

Mystery bidder bags infamous former Brisbane bathhouse

A MYSTERY bidder - believed to be a well-known Queensland property identity - has secured a slice of Fortitude Valley's notorious past.

The undisclosed investor has come up trumps at the auction of the former home of the notorious Bubbles Bath-House, illegal casino and brothel that was at the centre of the Fitzgerald Inquiry in the late 1980s.

Bidding by phone, the new owner - understood to be a Sunshine Coast-based property player - was among eight local and interstate registered bidders for the property at 144 Wickham St when it went under the hammer today.

Opening with a cheeky low offer of $800,000 the bidding quickly escalated and the property sold for $1.63 million after a flurry of 50 bids.

The infamous offering was marketed by Brad Merkur and Simon Robertson of Ray White Commercial Gold Coast.

"It was an outstanding auction, one of the best we've seen for some time … it was a real frenzy of bidding," Mr Merkur said.

"Obviously, the property has got a lot of history to it but it's strategic corner location, solid income and potential future upside were also drawcards."

Mr Merkur said the knockdown sale price reflected a yield of 5.6 per cent.

Inside Le Bubbles at 144 Wickham St, Fortitude Valley, which has sold under the hammer.
Inside Le Bubbles at 144 Wickham St, Fortitude Valley, which has sold under the hammer.

The three-level, heritage-listed building is now a fully legit commercial holding with two long-term tenants - Parisian steakhouse Les Bubbles, the brainchild of failed Fortitude Valley entrepreneur Damian Griffiths and a massage therapy business on the top floor.

However, there are plenty of references to the Valley's seamy side including a 15-person spa in the white tiled basement bar and the restaurant walls are adorned with photographs touted as a rogues' gallery of corruption and misconduct.

The property has been in the same family for over three decade after they bought it for $340,000 in 1986.

It has a net lettable area of 543sq m and is on a 238sq m site and returns a "totally legal" $91,246.87 a year with the tenants having signed two new five-year leases.

The asset is also surrounded by a range of significant projects where large-scale urban renewal is being undertaken - including the Herston Quarter, RNA Showgrounds redevelopment and The Royal International Convention Centre.