Apartments squeezed as hotel demand escalates

Meriton Group plans to turn a near-complete $152 million apartment development into a 32-storey hotel to meet Sydney’s urgent need for more tourism accommodation.

The CBD development in Sussex Street has current approval for 201 hotel suites between levels one and 16, with the rest of the tower taken up by 102 residential apartments.

But last week, Meriton lodged plans with the City of Sydney to change the use of levels 17 to 32 to hotel accommodation as well, removing all apartments from the build.

The change would bring the number of hotel suites to 303, including 99 studios and 204 one, two and three-bedroom suites, plus a two-storey penthouse.

The change comes as Meriton nears the end of construction, with completion at 230-238 Sussex Street scheduled for October 2018.

Sydney saw just 325 hotel rooms added over more than a decade from 2006, meaning the city is now bursting at the seams as it attempts to cater for a visitor boom.

Tourism Accommodation Australia data shows 40,204 rooms across 200 hotel projects are planned nationally over the next eight years, making it “the most extensive and comprehensive hotel rejuvenation phase in Australia’s tourism history”, according to chief executive officer Carol Giuseppi.

The number of hotel rooms across Australia’s major cities is forecast to grow by 3.8 per cent to 102,710 in the next year, an expansion industry consultant Dransfields attributes to several residential projects switching to short-term accommodation “on or close to completion”.

According to Fairfax Media, those developments include BPM Corp’s approved plans for an apartment tower in the Melbourne CBD morphing into a 130-room hotel, and Little Projects’ residential redevelopment at 9-27 Downie Street in Melbourne becoming a 278-room hotel.

Meriton bought 234-238 Sussex Street for around $60 million in 2014. Parking for 83 cars will be included in the proposal.

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