Hemmes snaps up “Australia’s best-located hotel development site” for $80m

Merivale chief Justin Hemmes has been revealed as the buyer of a prime $80 million development site in Sydney’s George Street adjacent to his Ivy bar and restaurant properties.

Hemmes predicts a three-year lag before work will begin on a $1.5 billion transformation of his central Sydney interests.

Marketed as “Australia’s best-located hotel development site” when put up for sale, the lot amalgamates 312 with 314, 316 and 318 George Street.

The acquisition gives the colourful pub owner 3,500sqm in the heart of the CBD, extending the George Street frontage of Ivy by 23 metres and providing scope for a precinct-style development which is slated to include a 55-storey international hotel.

In January, Merivale confirmed the nightclub hot spot would be closing down to be replaced by a “hotel, hospitality and lifestyle complex”.

Hemmes told the Sydney Morning Herald it was always his intention to redevelop the Ivy site with “an office tower and maybe a hotel”.

“It’s on the cards. The redevelopment and upgrade of George Street, Sydney is a major opportunity and we will work to get investors and developers on board,” he said.

Mr Hemmes said it would probably be at least a “three-year process to get approvals before we pushed the button”.

The potential redevelopment comes as Sydney’s George Street sees its light rail project nearing completion and a rash of new retail and commercial developments planned following its pedestrian zoning.

CBRE’s head of retail leasing for Australia, Leif Olson, told the SMH: “The data has shown areas that are positively impacted by pedestrianisation and which will benefit directly from increased flows of affluent customers shopping along George Street and the main Sydney retail precinct.”

A $2 billion redevelopment of the nearby Wynyard station precinct is also underway.

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