Hemmes buys large CBD site
DECEMBER 11, 2018
Pub mogul Justin Hemmes has taken the biggest bet of his career, buying a large Sydney CBD site adjoining his Ivy party palace for a multi-storey development valued at more than $1.5 billion.
For the first time, the heir to the Merivale dynasty is seeking outside investors to back the billion dollar-plus project which will top out at 55 levels and include Mr Hemmes’s inaugural foray into the world of commercial office development.
The iconic redevelopment of the George Street site, certain to rival nearby Barangaroo’s glitzy entertainment and office precincts, will also likely include hospitality outlets, an expanded Ivy nightclub and possibly even residential apartments and hotel accommodation.
While the residential property market is staggering towards the bottom of the cycle, Mr Hemmes’s investment play is understood to be aiming to capitalise on the surging value of commercial office towers that are trading at record levels as city rents have soared, even outpacing the strong performance of the hotel sector. Mr Hemmes declined to comment when contacted by The Australian last night.
A bullish Mr Hemmes is understood to have aggressively forked out more than $80 million for a 582 sqm Westpac site in George Street — about $10m above price expectations — which adjoins the Ivy.
All up, the amalgamated site directly opposite Wynyard Station encompasses a generous 3500 sqm of space for Mr Hemmes
The publican-cum-developer, according to sources, is also apparently considering residential apartments and accommodation for the site, with any luxury products designed to capitalise on its prime location and resilience of luxury units at the very top end of the market.
“It will be mixed use with commercial office space and perhaps accommodation and lots of hospitality,” said one senior source last night, adding that Mr Hemmes would definitely be looking for financial backers for the plans which would likely see him also expand the Ivy.
Once completed, a new mixed-use development would eventually provide a longer term income stream for Mr Hemmes as well as diversifying his holdings beyond the hospitality sector.
The move also comes as Sydney’s George Street grapples with delays on the light rail and tough lock-out laws but the prospect of the entrepreneur committing to such a major project could lift the entire precinct.
Mr Hemmes’s new property fronts 312-318 George Street and tenders, handled by selling agents McVay Real Estate, closed in August.
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