Newcastle hotel trades for record price

The Art Deco pub is selling for c$40 million.

Glenn Piper, with a small syndicate of investors, has snapped up the Art Deco Merewether Beach Hotel for a speculated $40 million – a Newcastle-region record pub price.

Andrew Lazarus paid $70 million for Sydney’s land-rich Vineyard Hotel last year.

The freehold going concern was offloaded by Andrew Lazarus, who acquired it from the Bale and Twohill families in 2019 for a reported price of over $20m (the freehold alone was worth $7.81m).

On 1858 square metres at the V-intersection of Frederick and Ridge streets, overlooking Merewether Beach, the asset had just undergone a renovation.

It was offered this time around permit-ready for another upgrade – worth $3.5m; HTL Property’s Dan Dragicevich and Andrew Jollife were the agents.

The venue includes indoor and outdoor drinking and dining zones, a gaming room with TAB facilities and 17 electronic gambling machine entitlements, three function spaces, top floor residence and two car parks.

Elsewhere in the area, Mr Lazarus holds the Exchange Hotel, at Hamilton, four kilometres west of the Merewether, and the Shoal Bay Country Club, also on the waterfront, c60km north east of Newcastle.

The publican also controls a metropolitan Sydney portfolio, including the Vineyard Hotel, which cost c$75m last year from the Stanford family.

Merewether Beach Hotel

At 99 Frederick Street, the Newcastle hotel was developed in 1939, replacing a pub constructed about 50 years earlier.

It is due to settle to Mr Piper, also a property investor, in July, and will continue to trade as normal until a refurbishment.

“Merewether Beach Hotel is a truly magnificent property, with one of the best pub views in the country,” the businessman said.

“It’s been part of the community since the 1880s, so I feel humbled and excited by this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take it on,” he added.

“I have spent a lot of time in the area over the years…as a kid I would always travel up on weekends to watch the surf with my dad and mates at Merewether,” according to the executive.

“My family who lives in Newcastle were actually the ones who told me the pub was on the market.

“They will be coming on board as investors, which makes the sale even more special” (story continues below).

Glenn Piper recently acquired the leasehold of Manly’s 30 hectare Q-Station.

Piper adds another trophy to portfolio

The Merewether Beach Hotel deal comes two years since Mr Piper acquired Freshwater’s c1928 Harbord Beach Hotel – reportedly after knocking on the door and offering to buy it – which has since been renovated.

“Both pubs share a wonderful affinity with the surf – the salty air is part of their DNA,” Mr Piper said.

“That’s exactly what we wanted to capture at Harbord and certainly what we’ll celebrate at Merewether, the home of Australia’s largest surf carnival,” he added.

Late last year, Mr Piper outlaid a speculated $15m for the leasehold of Manly’s 30 hectare Q-Station, which is also set for a major revamp.

Another Newcastle pub sale

The Merewether Beach Hotel sale comes three weeks since we reported Don Hodge Group outlaid $33m for Mount Hutton’s Lake Macquarie Tavern, about 14km south of Newcastle.

Also last month the Gravanis brothers Oscars Hotels Group spent $35m for the Caves Beach Hotel, which includes 39 multi-level guest cabins, 15km south of Mount Hutton.

In March, Danielle Richardson, the daughter of Arthur Laundy, with her husband, purchased the Orana Hotel at Blacksmiths, between the Don Hodge and Oscars Hotel assets – a $13m commitment.

Four months ago, a new hospitality outfit, Partners Group Australia, led by Sydney based banker Martin Scott, acquired central Newcastle’s historic Lucky Hotel for $20m.

Last year, too, the Grand Hotel at Newcastle East and Duke of Wellington, in New Lambton, west of Newcastle, found new owners.

The latter, like the Lucky Hotel, was also to a new pub investor, Reklaw Hotels.

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Marc Pallisco

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