Sydney businessmen sell Balmain’s Unity Hall Hotel for $20 million

Balmain’s Unity Hall Hotel has sold for $20 million – about $5 million less than its price guide upon being listed last month.

The 1919 pub at the prominent V-intersection of Beattie and Darling streets is said to be the birthplace of the Australian Labor Party – in so far as it was where the group’s first meeting was held.

In 2011, it was acquired by a fund controlled by a consortium of high-profile Sydney-based businessmen including media mogul John Singleton, former Qantas boss Geoff Dixon and venture capitalist Mark Carnegie (the latter who last month spent $6 million on a waterfront Queenstown property with his new partner, a motorcycle-riding, mechanic member of the British royal family, into guns).

That fund, then known by a different name, was designed to pick up distressed pub assets.

The Unity Hall Hotel at 292 Darling Street, Balmain is where the Australian Labor Party held its first meeting.

Unity Hall Hotel had been owned for 40 years prior by the Hardman family.

In 2007, it was speculated the property was worth about $19.6 million.

Mr Carnegie in 2015 surrendered his interest in the Unity Hall Hotel, leaving Mr Singleton and Mr Dixon, via their Australian Pub Fund, to sell it.

The Australian Pub Fund is currently being wound down.

The Australian is reporting in this item that the Unity Hall Hotel purchasers are Balmain publicans the Roddy and McRedmond families.

It also said former Wallaby, Bill King – whose family is in the hotel game – was a suitor.

HTL Property’s Andrew Jolliffe and Dan Dragicevich marketed the Balmain property at 292 Darling Street, which is about five kilometres west of the Sydney CBD.

Rising two storeys and with 562 square metres of internal area, configured as bars, a bistro and bottle shop, the pub was last renovated in 2012 (late Prime Minister Bob Hawke was a guest of honour at the re-opening event).

Late Prime Minister Bob Hawke was a guest of honour at a relaunch following a 2012 hotel renovation.

It includes 22 gaming machines and a licence to trade until 3am – the only hotel in the suburb permitted to do so.

The hotel has made headlines for being where convicted criminal Brad Cooper would meet HIH executive Bill Howard to hand over bribes, and where former hold-up merchant Graham Henry, along with more of the city’s lawless, would drink.

The current Unity Hall Hotel replaced another pub, at another address, known by the same name between 1846-1875.

Its sale comes after publican Arthur Landy recently paid more than $42 million for The Oxford Hotel, in Drummoyne, a little further west of the city.

The sale price is twice what the vendors paid in 2011, when it was unrenovated. But it is $5 million less than what was expected when it hit the market last month.

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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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