Hilton leases hotel under construction in the Melbourne CBD

Singaporean tycoon Michael Kum has secured Hilton Hotels & Resorts to occupy a 244-room hotel under construction in the Melbourne CBD.

Hilton Melbourne Little Queen Street will rise above and behind the historic Equity Chambers building – a property Mr Kum’s M&L Hospitality bought for $30 million in 2017.

Upon completion later this year, it will be the first Hilton-branded hotel in the Melbourne CBD.

Elsewhere in the city, Hilton operates at 270 Flinders Street using its Double Tree marque.

The accommodation provider also recently committed to run a 600-suite Hilton hotel within OSK’s $2.8 billion Melbourne Square project in Southbank.

Hilton also recently leased a hotel within Southbank’s $2.8 billion Melbourne Square proposal.

For decades until 2015, Hilton operated an East Melbourne hotel opposite Fitzroy Gardens (this property is now a Pullman, and sold last year to iProsperity for $200 million).

In 2017, the Hilton Melbourne South Wharf was rebranded the Pan Pacific Melbourne.

“The signing of Hilton Melbourne Little Queen Street is an exciting milestone for us as we re-introduce our flagship brand, Hilton Hotels & Resorts back into the Melbourne market,” Heidi Kunkel, Hilton’s vice president, operations, Australasia, said.

Ms Kunkel added the inn will be a “unique addition” to its portfolio of more than 570 properties across six countries.

In Australasia, Hilton Hotels & Resorts controls 27 properties – four of which are owned by M&L Hospitality.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with M&L Hospitality to bring our renowned brand of hospitality back to the wonderful city of Melbourne”.

Equity Chambers was built in 1931 on the site of Victoria’s first synagogue.

Artist’s impression of QC Residences, a proposal which until 2017, would have seen the site redeveloped as an apartment complex.

The five-level Romanesque building, with Gothic details, also holds the title as the country’s longest continuously operated barristers’ chambers.

The Bourke Street site has been mooted for a residential redevelopment since 2008 – when Williamson Properties won approval to build 215 apartments both within the historic building and in a new 16-storey tower, behind it.

In 2012, Williamsons Properties sold the permitted property for $12.7 million to Malaysian developer DKLS.

A year later, China-based builder ZYTT acquired Equity Chambers for $15 million.

Mr Kum successfully applied to change the use of the proposed building to a hotel in 2018. Upon completion, the complex will also include a restaurant, gym, executive lounge and five meeting and event spaces.

M&L Hospitality’s hotel portfolio includes assets in Singapore, New Zealand and Europe – many managed by Hilton.

Mr Kum ranks 33rd on this 2018 Forbes list of Singapore’s richest people, with a net worth of about US$930 million. A prominent hotelier now, his wealth was originally acquired in the shipping industry.

Last week we reported that Mantra Group committed to occupy an unbuilt hotel at 203-207 Bridge Road, Richmond, in Melbourne’s inner-east. This item includes details of several other hoteliers to lease sites in and around the city over the past 12 months.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of realestatesource.com.au.