Tim Gurner snares hotelier Veriu for Johnston Street, Collingwood, site

Veriu has pre-committed to its second Melbourne hotel in a week.

The Sydney-based hotelier, established in 2000 by Alex Thorpe and Rhys Williams, who met when they were 10 and studied communications together at university, will operate a 95-key inn at 23-33 Johnston Street, Collingwood, a property owned by Tim Gurner.

The Johnston Street lease was first reported by theurbandeveloper.com.au in this item, today.

Veriu mentioned the Collingwood deal – save for street address – in a press release circulated last week, in which it also announced plans to open its maiden-Melbourne hotel: a 111-suite facility on the Munro site at Queen Victoria Market.

Currently a collection of rundown commercial buildings, Mr Gurner acquired 23-33 Johnston Street off-market, paying members of the Martino family $12 million in 2016.

The proposed Veriu hotel in Collingwood.

The 1873 square metre block was initially earmarked by Mr Gurner to make way for a 12-storey apartment complex.

However, when this proposal was targeted by planning minister Richard Wynne (whose electorate includes Collingwood) to make way for a smaller-scale building, Mr Gurner commenced legal action against the state government – something he ceased pursuing four months ago.

The scale of some of Mr Gurner’s proposed projects means he may need the minister’s approval in future.

Mr Gurner will now reapply to replace 23-33 Johnston Street with the new building, also set to include 65 apartments and 700 square metres of lower-level retail space.

Initial concepts include a hotel bar, rooftop pool and amenity offering with a porte-cochere, concierge and valet, Mr Gurner said.

The relationship with Veriu opens the possibility of the accommodation provider negotiating to operate on other sites in Mr Gurner’s portfolio.

An artist’s impression used to market high-end apartments at St Moritz, in St Kilda, a site co-controlled by Tim Gurner.

Elsewhere in Melbourne, Mr Gurner owns or co-controls sites in South Melbourne and Fitzroy North. Last year he embarked on a joint venture partnership to replace the former Novotel St Kilda site with a luxury apartment project.

In Collingwood, Mr Gurner has completed more than 20 projects. He controls a unique rectangle site at 1-57 Wellington Street – earmarked for a series of mid-rise residential buildings.

The Wellington Street site made headlines when Mr Gurner’s initial redevelopment proposal – an innovative and uber-contemporary apartment building penned by one of Sydney’s most respected architects – was described by socialist councillor Steve Jolly as “a bogan, sparkling white, Las Vegas building photo-shopped onto a map of Collingwood”.

An aerial of the South Melbourne site (shaded) at the corner of Kings Way and Park Street, which Mr Gurner bought for $10 million late last year.

Veriu operates mainly out of Sydney but recently picked up a Brisbane complex.

Early last year it acquired 13 hotels, with 777 rooms, from Punthill Apartment Hotel Group, giving it a foothold into Melbourne via eight suburban complexes, and four in the CBD.

Last month, the hotel group offered for sale its Veriu Sydney Central freehold, with a leaseback. This hotel at 75 Wentworth Avenue is expected to sell for more than $60 million hotel following a campaign being managed by Colliers International’s Gus Moors, Karen Wales and Joseph Lin.

A swag of hotel lease deals have been signed in Melbourne recently.

Last month, we reported that the Hilton brand is coming to the CBD. Hilton has leased a hotel under construction atop and behind the Equity Chambers building at 472-478 Bourke Street – a site controlled by Singapore businessman Michael Lum’s M&L Hospitality.

Hilton also recently announced plans to set up in OSK’s $2.8 billion Melbourne Square project in Southbank.

In Richmond, Mantra Group has committed to an unapproved 11-level building in Bridge Road.

Artist’s impression of the hotel Hyatt Centric has leased in River Street, South Yarra.

Hyatt has also committed to new complexes – at 27 Downie Street in the CBD, 2-10 River Street, South Yarra, and a site in Springvale, about 23 kilometres south-east of the city.

St Regis – the brand said to have invented the Bloody Mary drink – is also coming to Melbourne, signing at the $800 million Flinders Bank village, which replace the former World Trade Centre, at the city’s west end.

Not far from this site, 1 Hotels recently confirmed it will occupy its first Australian facility, at Riverlee’s Northbank, which is replacing the Seafarer’s Mission site at 731-739 Flinders Street.

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Marc Pallisco

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