Erskineville’s Imperial Hotel sold

Fraser Short and Scott Leach completed a renovation of The Imperial five years ago.

Erskineville’s Imperial Hotel – for over four decades one of Sydney’s most popular LGBTQIA+ pubs, also featuring in 1994 film Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – has sold between local veterans.

Universal purchased the Newtown Hotel in 2021.

The 1940s Art Deco venue, which replaced a hotel that stood on the site since the 1880s, is believed to be trading for $19-$20 million.

The Kospetas family’s Universal Hotels is the buyer; the freehold going concern will be added to a stable also with the Bat & Ball in Redfern, Civic Hotel, in the CBD, Crown Hotel (Surry Hills), The Mill Bondi and, on Oxford St, Darlinghurst, The Riley, Oxford and Universal.

Two years ago, it acquired the Newtown Hotel from Colonial Leisure Group.

“We have a strong connection with the LGBTQIA+ community and are very excited about the next chapter of the venue,” Universal chief executive officer, Harry Kospetas, said.

“The acquisition fits our strategy of acquiring outstanding assets where our operational and geographic synergies can unlock value,” he added.

Fraser Short’s Sydney Collective with Scott Leach, the Australian Hotels Association NSW president, was the vendor.

The deal comes four months since Mr Short sold Laundy Hotels a 50pc interest in six New South Wales hotels including the Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel and Mona Vale’s Park House.

Not long later, the publican offloaded the Whalebridge at Circular Quay and The Morrison on George St, to ex-Merivale executive Brett Sergeant and James Wicks (story continues below).

Fraser Short recently sold his stake in Evans Heads’ Hotel Illawong to Arthur Laundy.

Imperial Hotel

Mr Short and Mr Leach paid c$6.5m for the Imperial Hotel in 2015 – soon after it was closed following licensing infringements.

About another $6m was spent on a renovation, with the two level venue with a rooftop bar at 35 Erskineville Road reopening in 2018.

The off-market sale to Universal was brokered by JLL’s Kate Macdonald.

“This is a natural addition to the Universal Hotels portfolio as they continue to invest in venues with strong and diverse income streams, many of which rely on entertainment as a key business driver,” she said.

“The Kospetas family and their incredibly capable team will provide the Erskineville community with the same good vibes as they have done all over Sydney for more than two decades,” according to the executive.

“With the NSW state election in March contributing to fewer transactions thus far in 2023, the sale of the Imperial Hotel is the first of a spate of forthcoming announcements from JLL Hotels as astute investors seek to capitalise on buying opportunities that have been lacking over the last 24 months”.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of