Gatwick Hotel confirmed for The Block

Channel 9 has bought The Gatwick Hotel. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin

The Gatwick Hotel will be transformed on an upcoming season of The Block, after Channel 9 finally confirmed it had bought the notorious rooming house.

The show’s executive producer Julian Cress told the Herald Sun the project would be “right up there” as one the show’s most challenging endeavours yet.

“It will need a fair big of TLC inside and out,” he said.

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Cress says the show only seriously began eyeing the St Kilda rooming house when it was confirmed to be closing down, and will not begin filming at the site until all of its residents are re-homed.

“We’re not going to rush into it,” he says

Cress could not confirm the price paid for the 79-year-old heritage building, but says it was “not as much as what’s been reported”.

“It’s certainly a great building in a great location, so it wasn’t cheap,” he said.

“But it was languishing on the market for some time.”

The hotel’s owners, sisters Yvette Kelly and Rose Banks, had been seeking more than $15 million for the property after listing it for sale in December 2015.

Gatwick Hotel Channel 9 St Kilda

Channel 9 has bought the Gatwick Hotel in St Kilda. Picture: Jay Town

The confirmation follows months of rumours, and comes after title documents indicated the sale last week.

Cress says The Block has been interested in The Gatwick for its “aspirational” location, remarkable facade and “iconic” status.

He says the TV transformation will involve restoring the building’s historic exterior and overhauling its “dilapidated” interior, but stayed mum on the rest of his plans.

“We’ve always been about restoring rather than demolishing,” he said.

“And there are many more rooms in there than would be required.

It’s certainly a great building in a great location, so it wasn’t cheap

“But I want to keep some cards up my sleeves for the contestants.”

Cress also says the show will continue to support “charities that look after homelessness”, as it had always done.

City of Port Phillip mayor Bernadene Voss welcomed this commitment, and Cress’s decisions to hold off until every Gatwick resident has been rehomed and maintain the heritage property’s facade.

She says the council will be meeting with the show’s producers to “share our ideas about how the skills of The Block team can be harnessed to improve and grow affordable housing” in the area.

About 45 people were told to leave the 80-bed rooming house earlier this month.

St Kilda Community Housing has already found homes for about a dozen of them and expected to find long-term housing solutions in the St Kilda area for the rest area by midyear, chief executive John Enticott said.

The Block Channel 9 Scott Cam contestants

Last year’s The Block contestants, with the show’s host Scott Cam. Photo: Martin Philbey

Buyer’s advocates Frank Valentic of Advantage Property Consulting and Nicole Jacobs of Nicole Jacobs Property — both regulars on The Block — expect a transformed Gatwick to be strongly sought by wealthy investors.

Valentic says if the building is transformed into five to six luxury apartments, as was standard for the program, they would fetch “$2.5 million every day of the week”.

Jacobs says the project will be a “goldmine” for Block contestants.

Both say the building’s location near public transport, cafes the beach and Albert Park Lake will be its biggest drawcard.

The rooming house won’t feature on the next season of The Block — it appears a 2989sqm vacant block on Regent St, Elsternwick has been picked for that.

Channel 9 has not officially confirmed this, but five old houses have already been moved on to the $9.6 million site and producers of the show have contacted Regent St residents to alert them of the upcoming works.

This article from the Herald Sun was originally published as “Title documents show Channel 9 has bought the notorious Gatwick Hotel”.