FRANCO’S GRAND SALE

Fur­ni­ture leg­end fi­nally ready to sell up in beloved ‘Foot-is-cray’

Sunday Herald Sun - - News - CARO­LINE SCHELLE

But maybe I change-a my mind, be­cause firstly, I will miss all of my pub­lic­ity

A LEG­ENDARY fur­ni­ture king’s western sub­urbs store is up for grabs and could be trans­formed into lux­u­ri­ous apart­ments.

King of baroque Franco Cozzo put his famed fur­ni­ture store in “Foot-is-cray” up for sale on Thurs­day, with an ask­ing price of around $7 mil­lion.

The 1088sq m Hop­kins St shop could be trans­formed into an apart­ment tower or new com­mer­cial site, sub­ject to coun­cil ap­proval.

Opened by the flam­boy­ant Mr Cozzo shortly af­ter he ar­rived in Aus­tralia in 1956, it ex­panded to a sec­ond store in “Brun­saw­ick” not long af­ter. The ex­u­ber­ant sales­man still works in his stores and said he would miss his cus­tomers and the area if the site sold.

“But maybe I change-a my mind,” he said, “be­cause firstly, I will miss all of my pub­lic­ity.”

Mr Cozzo said he would like to keep the fur­ni­ture shop and see apart­ments de­vel­oped on top.

“Be­cause the fam­ily will be fur­ni­ture peo­ple al­ways and I am the king of fur­ni­ture,” he said.

The past year has been tu­mul­tuous for Mr Cozzo, when police al­leged that the Footscray leg­end had been liv­ing in fear of his son Luigi “Lou” Cozzo. Luigi was pre­vi­ously ac­cused of threat­en­ing to kill his fa­ther in April 2016, but pros­e­cu­tors dropped all the charges against him on De­cem­ber 12.

How­ever, the 82-year-old said yes­ter­day that he didn’t want to re­tire, 30 years af­ter charm­ing Mel­bur­ni­ans with his heavy ac­cent and for­eign-lan­guage TV sales pitches. “If I re­tire what’s-a Franco Cozzo — fin­ish — but I want to be an ac­tor al­ways,” he said.

How­ever, the fa­ther of 10 said the western sub­urbs and Footscray would al­ways have a spe­cial place in his heart.

“Footscray and the west has been good to me and is full of lovely, lovely peo­ple,” he said.

“I love Footscray and I love Aus­tralia be­cause it made me who I am.”

Com­mer­cial agent Rudy Kele­men said the prop­erty was tar­geted to­wards de­vel­op­ers and was tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion set­tle­ment pe­ri­ods.

“He’s 82 and there comes a time when you want to move on,” Mr Kele­men said.

He said the site had a lot to of­fer as it was 5km from Mel­bourne, close to pub­lic trans­port and in the heart of Footscray.

The shop was first put on the mar­ket two years ago, and is cur­rently un­der of­fer.

Pic­ture: JAKENOWAKOWSKI

Franco Cozzo hold­ing court as ever in his Footscray shop, which may not be his king­dom for much longer.

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