John Singleton and Geoff Dixon list Balmain’s Unity Hall Hotel – the birthplace of the Australian Labor Party

Media mogul John Singleton and former Qantas boss Geoff Dixon, via their Australian Pub Fund, are selling the Balmain building where the Australian Labor Party’s first meeting was held.

Unity Hall Hotel is expected to sell for about $25 million.

The pair, with Mark Carnegie, paid $10 million for the complex in 2011, shortly after Mr Singleton invested into the fund then known as Riversdale, which was created six years earlier to buy distressed pubs.

The double storey 562 square metre hotel was built in 1919.

Control of the 1919-built watering hole, also a popular jazz bar, moved to the Australian Pub Fund when it was created in 2015.

Australian Pub Fund is now being wound down.

Riversdale will continue to operate in Queensland and Newcastle where in mid-2018 it just bought the Lambton Park Hotel.

Unity Hall Hotel occupies a site at the V-intersection of Darling and Beattie streets.

Balmain’s Unity Hall Hotel

Unity Hall Hotel, at 292 Darling Street, set a record, which still stands, for the highest price paid for a Balmain property.

That said, the Riverdsale’s outlay shocked many, being well down on its speculated 2007 peak price (reported to be about $19.6 million).

The double storey, 562 square metre venue occupies a prominent plot at the V-intersection of Beattie Street, about five kilometres west of the Sydney CBD.

Configured with multiple bars and outdoor spaces, a bistro and bottle shop, it includes 22 gaming machines

Unity Hall Hotel is the only venue in Balmain licensed to trade until 3am, marketing agents Daniel Dragicevich and Andrew Jolliffe of HTL Property said.

The vendors are offering the investment with a permit allowing for the number of patrons to be increased.

Riversdale also undertook a major renovation of the hotel, in 2012 – re-launching with an event attended by late former prime minister Bob Hawke.

The pub was renovated in 2012. The relaunch was attended by late former prime minister, Bob Hawke.

As well as the ALP connection – Unity Hall Hotel was where convicted criminal Brad Cooper would meet HIH executive Bill Howard to hand over bribes.

According to this 2011 dailytelegraph.com.au item, former armed hold-up merchant Graham Henry and criminal Stan ‘Neddy’ Smith also drank at the venue which was considered a hangout for the lawless.

Riverside acquired Unity Hall Hotel from Will Hardman whose family had owned it for 40 years.

The property includes a bottle shop.

Australian Pub Fund sell-down

The vulture fund sold a string of Sydney pubs in 2017 including the Kinselas at Taylors Square, to hoteliers the Kospetas family, for a speculated $23 million.

Celebrity chef Matt Moran and Bruce Solomon’s Solotel Group paid $34 million for the fund’s Marlborough Hotel in Newtown (last October, we reported that Mr Moran and Mr Solomon sold the Clovelly Hotel leasehold to Tilley and Wills Group, controlled by Nick Wills).

Australian Pub Fund also recently offloaded Glebe’s Toxteth to Mitchell Waugh for $21 million and Marrickville’s Vic on the Park to Justin Hemmes, for $22 million.

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Marc Pallisco

A freelance property analyst and journalist, Marc is a co-founder of realestatesource.com.au.

Marc Pallisco
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