Byron Bay Holiday Village Backpackers sold in an $18.55m mega deal

It’s the end of an era for a popular Byron Bay backpackers after it sold for $18.55m in one of the biggest and most emotional deals for the town.

Byron Bay Holiday Village located at 116-118 Jonson Street is considered a local institution, and has been in the same hands for more than 37 years.

It was one of the last multistorey development sites in the heart of Byron.

The prime 4,287sqm site has been bought by Sydney developer Podia in a cash unconditional deal brokered through John Musca and Elliott O’Shea of JLL Property Group.

There is currently no DA approval in place.

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One of the last multistorey development sites in the heart of Byron, Byron Bay Holiday Village was founded by the local Walker family and was the first purpose-built backpackers hostel in Australia when it was constructed in 1983.

Operated by Katie Wilson, one of the Walker children, on behalf of her mother and siblings, Mr Musca said the sale was an emotional one with a tear shed at the signing of the contract.

Aerial of 90 Jonson Street, Byron Bay.

The site at 90-96 Jonson Street, Byron Bay, sold for $29.8m earlier this year.

“There was an overwhelming sense of sentimentality,” he said. “Usually these transactions are devoid of emotion, but this was obviously about more than just money.”

Mr Musca said they fielded about 150 inquiries throughout the marketing campaign buoyed by the strong market conditions and general appeal of Byron Bay as a destination.

The most recent comparable sale was for the slightly larger 5390sq m development site at 90-96 Jonson Street, which went under offer in January for $29.8m.

“The sale of the backpackers is in keeping with the strength of sales per square metre that are transacting in the town,” Mr Musca said, “particularly when the site was showing very little holding income after the business was decimated during COVID. This sale is clearly not about an income play, it’s purely about development.”

The Beach Hotel

The Beach Hotel Byron Bay sold for a massive $104m in a deal brokered last year.

While potential plans for the site are still being considered, Michael Grassi, the head of development at Podia, said: “We have been looking for many years to be a part of and contribute to this very special place.

“We are reviewing options with our architects Richards and Spence. When draft plans are ready to share we will be then seeking input from the local community.”

Mr Musca said Jonson Street was a key area of focus for Byron’s commercial market with developments including the Mercato and Palace cinema complex, a proposed four-star hotel on the former Woolworths site and a new hospitality and retail complex.

The Mercato shopping centre on Jonson St.

He said the local Byron Bay council had done well to allow commercial development to take place but by restricting it to Jonson St it allowed the town to maintain its integrity.

Byron Bay has been a hotbed for high-profile commercial and residential transactions of late, fuelled by an influx of Hollywood A-listers and high-profile celebrities.

Late last year the Beach Hotel was sold for a record $104m and the Gold Coast-based Guok family bought Byron Bay’s 28-room The Bower hotel at 28 Bangalow Road for $18m, while it has been reported that Chris and Liam Hemsworth have combined spent more than $20m on property in Byron Bay over the past five years.