COVID-19 hotel: Rydges on Swanston sold during Melbourne lockdown

The Rydges on Swanston hotel has sold. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty
The Rydges on Swanston hotel has sold. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty

A Carlton hotel at the centre of the state government’s botched quarantine program has been snapped up by a prominent private developer in a multimillion-dollar deal.

The Rydges on Swanston is set to shed its infamous past as a source of Melbourne’s crippling second coronavirus wave, with buyer Pelligra planning an “extensive refurbishment and repositioning” of the property as a high-end hotel and conference facility.

The aim would be to reopen next year.

The 107-room hotel at 701 Swanston Street fetched about $35m, after hitting the market in July with price expectations in the vicinity of $40m.

Despite prospective buyers being unable to physically inspect the property due to its use as a quarantine site for returned overseas travellers, it attracted more than 200 inquiries and a dozen bids from developers, hoteliers and investors, Jones Real Estate’s Paul Jones said.

Fellow listing agent Colliers International director Guy Wells said the hotel’s city-fringe location adjoining Lincoln Square, and the opportunity it offered “for various groups to redevelop or reposition” were major drawcards.

Wells previously told the Herald Sun: “Regardless of what it’s been used for, land is the key. It’s scarce around these parts.

“Ultimately you’re buying 1762sq m of land within 600m of the CBD, … adjacent to the best university in Australia (the University of Melbourne) and within 250m of a new train station. You can’t get much better than these sorts of sites.”

He attempted to sell it last year, generating offers in excess of $50m during that ultimately unsuccessful campaign.

Carlton Rydges Swanston coronavirus COVID-19

Carlton’s Rydges on Swanston has sold.

Wells said while it was “good to see there’s still activity” on the Melbourne commercial property market in the depths of a stage four lockdown, the sector was operating in a “very constrained environment” due to the ban on physical inspections.

“It should be very easy for us to be able to undertake inspections in a one-on-one environment,” he said.

“I understand the (government’s) desire to restrict people’s movements. But we would only be working with qualified parties.”

The Victorian Government’s road map to reopening revealed physical inspections would not be permitted again until at least October 26, and only if the state recorded fewer than five daily cases over the two weeks prior to that date.

This article from the Herald Sun originally appeared as “COVID-19 quarantine hotel: Rydges on Swanston, Carlton sells”.