NEWS PROPERTY

Bowen’s Grandview Hotel which was built in 1864 and has been in the hands of the McLean family since 1919 has sold for about $20 million. The property has been bought we understand by the Sydney-based Vinta Group. The company was not responding to calls, but it is described on its Linkedin site as having “a property portfolio comprising major retail and commercial assets”. The pub featured in the Baz Luhrmann movie Australia. Twenty million is a lot of moolah for a country pub, but the Grandview, in case you haven’t been there, is a “pokie palace”.

A Lower Hutt hotel that hosted Tana Umaga’s All Blacks and has a well known staff member called Pickles, has been sold for an undisclosed sum. After 27 years, Peter Norrie is reluctantly selling the Angus Inn, which has 70 rooms and a popular bar. Although he had a $62 million plan to develop the site, he said the time was right to move on.

The owners of Geelong’s Corio Bay Motel are hoping an international buyer will pay a multi-million price for the landmark northern suburbs property. The freehold to the Princes Highway accommodation has hit the market for the first time in 30 years as the owners sought to leverage the increased demand for Asian investors in Corio residential property market. CRE Brokers agent Dave Harris said the owners, who also previously operated the business before selling the leasehold, had watched with interest as the Corio property market grew on the back of investors confidence. Mr Harris wouldn’t reveal price expectations for the property, but indicated the agents were seeking a short yield on the 2322sq m site at 292-296 Princes Highway, Corio.

A Malaysian developer has snapped up the Habitat HQ backpacker hostel on Melbourne’s St Kilda Road in a $16 million-plus deal. The property at 333 St Kilda Road was sold on behalf of the family operators of Habitat HQ. CBRE agents Julian White, David Minty, Chao Zhang and Josh Rutman brokered the property, which is slated as a potential apartment development site. The 2540-square-metre corner site fronts both St Kilda Road and Blanche Street and is home to a 1612 sq m, multi-level building. Passing income is about $720,000 annually. The property has a six-level development limit and, based on potential schemes for the site, the sale price represents as much as $200,000 per prospective unit. Mr Zhang said the transaction reflected a resurgence in Asian buyer interest in Melbourne development sites. “Six of our past seven site sales have involved Asian developers, who are looking at macro factors such as Melbourne’s strong population growth when pursuing new acquisitions,” he said. The property is in a tightly held area of St Kilda Road, with only four properties selling over the past two years in the stretch between Carlisle Street and St Kilda Junction. Along its length, though, the leafy boulevard leading to the Melbourne CBD remains a busy market. Last month a group of 25 owners of apartments and offices joined together to put their building at 545 St.

The listed Elanor Investors Group has finalised a major hospitality acquisition, picking up a portfolio of six Australian hotels for $103.9 million that will go into its specialist unlisted vehicle. The Elanor Metro and Prime Regional Hotel Fund, set up last year to acquire high-yield hotels with expansion or alternative use potential, had acquired the properties from another Elanor-run vehicle. Elanor has also struck up a strategic partnership with motoring group NRMA to co-invest along with other investors in the fund, positioning it to grow. The tie-up is in keeping with NRMA’s moves to give its 2.3 million members more tourism services. The motoring group has also committed further capital to accelerate the growth of the EMPR fund. “The transaction provides the opportunity to grow revenue following the refurbishment of a number of the properties, particularly Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge and Parklands Resort Mudgee,” Elanor head of hotels, tourism and leisure Marianne Ossovani said. The hotels were previously owned by the Elanor Hospitality and Accommodation Fund and the latest acquisition is viewed as accretive to the EMPR fund and boosts its scale. EMPR, which already had $73.2m worth of properties, was set up with an initial portfolio of three Australian hotels: the IBIS Styles Eaglehawk, NSW, the IBIS Styles Canberra, ACT, and the Byron Bay Hotel and Apartments, NSW. The trust is now on track to hit it target of growing to about $200m just 18 months after being launched. After the deal the EMPR Fund will have a nine hotels, with 774 rooms, independently valued at more than $177m. The portfolio will now include the Mantra Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW; Ibis Styles Port Macquarie, Port Macquarie, NSW; Ibis Styles Tall Trees, Ainslie, ACT; Mantra Pavilion Wagga Wagga, Wagga Wagga, NSW; Parklands Resort Mudgee, Mudgee, NSW, and Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge, Cradle Mountain, Tasmania.

Bells Hotel in Sydney’s harbourside suburb of Woolloomooloo has hit the market for the first time in almost 50 years, with a price guide of $15 million. The pub, opposite the Woolloomooloo Finger Wharf, has been owned and operated by the Miles family since it opened in 1973.Set on 339 square metres, the two-storey hotel has uninterrupted views of the harbour as well as Centrepoint Tower and the Sydney skyline. An international sales campaign is being undertaken by selling agency HTL Property and the hotel will go to auction on November 15. “Our clients are retiring from the industry … and are determined to ensure the hotel is bought by a party with the capacity and desire to amplify the history, prominence and opportunity so inherent in this offering,” HTL Property’s national director of pubs, Dan Dragicevich, said. Earlier this week another popular eastern suburbs pub, The Bellevue Hotel, was sold to Royal Hotels, which is owned and operated by the Malouf family. The Woollahra institution, which had at one stage been owned by John Singleton and his business partner ex-Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon, had undergone a significant renovation following its aquisition by WDS Hotels in 2014. “We’ve enjoyed a successful four years of ownership at this great hotel, and following complete renovation and repositioning, formed a decision to focus on our existing portfolio, which includes the Fortune of War Hotel, and in doing so to recycle the capital into another opportunity we’re considering,” WDS director Steven Speed said.

Local government is getting creative with the redevelopment of assets but it’s not easy to put a dollar value on the potential projects. The City of Whittlesea is looking for a new operator for the Graham Marsh-designed 18-hole Growling Frog golf course in Yan Yean, Nillumbik Shire is looking for a partner to develop the old Eltham council offices at 895-907 Main Road. Fitzroys agents Rick Berry and Tom Fisher are running an expressions of interest program for Whittlesea, in conjunction with Well Played, a golf business consultancy, offering a 30-year lease term on the golf course and its hospitality facilities. There is some potential for further development on about 2 hectares of surplus land – hotel, residential or hospitality. Course operators must keep the picturesque, Red Gum studded course in Golf Australia magazine’s Top 100 public access golf courses. And no gambling is allowed so forget about pokies.

Mokau locals chat about the lifestyle that awaits new business owners. If you’re the sort of can-do Kiwi who’s always up for a challenge, then what about swapping your city home for an entire town – and safeguarding a classic piece of New Zealand history. With today’s eye-watering property prices, $1.5 million doesn’t buy you much within city limits, but in the Taranaki whitebait paradise of Mōkau, that price – or thereabouts – will buy you the lion’s share of the town’s businesses. Under the hammer is The Whitebait Inn for $950,000, owned by Clare and Dave Harding, the Mōkau Butchery and house which has been owned by Graham and Gloria Putt for the past 29 years and is for sale for a negotiable $450,000. So far, seems simple. But actually, those two businesses are far more than their names suggest. The Whitebait Inn comes with a camping ground and shop, it is the town’s de facto takeaway, restaurant and post office. The owner also has the responsibility for handing over supplies to a courier twice a week who then drives for hours into the surrounding hills to give the local farmers their mail and a top-up of milk, eggs and bread. “You have to be prepared to work, and that can be a bit of a stumbling block, but it’s certainly a very good financial business,” Clare says.And in whitebait season, it gets busy. Real busy. The sort of busy that means they make around 100 fritters a day, handing them out to visitors at $18.50 a pop. “The key is plenty of whitebait because people will tell you if there’s not,” she laughed. And in whitebait season, it gets busy. Real busy. The sort of busy that means they make around 100 fritters a day, handing them out to visitors at $18.50 a pop. “The key is plenty of whitebait because people will tell you if there’s not,” she laughed.