Developers, pub barons to vie for Coogee Bay Hotel

The Coogee Bay Hotel is reportedly still on the market – for the right price.

Pub billionaire Justin Hemmes is one of a slew of high-profile local developers and international investors to inspect Sydney’s prized Coogee Bay Hotel, which has hit the market with a price tag of more than $250 million.

Long-term owner Chris Cheung, managing director of C!inc Hospitality, put the hotel — known for Selina’s nightclub, ­pokies and ocean views — on the market in April through Jones Lang LaSalle.

A number of Sydney’s long-term pub owners had sold down their hotel assets as the market reached its peak with several buyers still circling the Coogee Bay Hotel for acquisition.

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Just last week, adman John Singleton sold his Icebergs restaurant in Bondi for $15 million to the O’Brien Group in yet another example of high-profile owners cashing in on market highs.

Hemmes is one publican who is taking a counter cyclical view, buying at least five pubs in the past year, but in the contest for the Coogee Bay pub, developers are dominating the field.

Hemmes is known to have shown keen interest in the Coogee Bay Hotel as he already owns the nearby Coogee Pavilion where he undertook a major ­restoration.

However, for real estate barons the real attraction of the Coogee Bay Hotel, perched across from famous Coogee Beach, is its development potential. The sprawling beachside site is one of the best coastal sites in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, with Cheung previously having tried to gain ­approval for apartments.

However, in 2010, Cheung and Oakstand Property Group reaped widespread public condemnation for proposing a $150 million upgrade of the beachfront site. The plans were knocked back by the then NSW Labor government and the Randwick City Council.

Senior industry sources say the Coogee Bay Hotel is still available — at a price — despite a spokesman for Cheung claiming he wants to ­retain the pub.

The spokesman claims the marketing process is complete and C!inc intends to retain the property.

Cheung says in a statement there have been a number of offers to buy the hotel, which was developed in 1873 and is 8km from the CBD. Cheung says he ­remains committed to the business “as we have ownership of a great asset”. He declined to comment further.

Coogee Bay Hotel has 30 pokie machines, a sports and beach bar, brasserie, and The Garden Restaurant along with a 51-room boutique four-star hotel offering Ocean View and pub-style rooms.

With more than 220m of prime frontage to Coogee Bay Rd and Arden St the popular hotel ­offers a liquor barn as well as a conference and function centre.

Cheung bought the hotel in 1991, transforming it from a simple watering hole to a major hospitality precinct.

C!inc Hospitality also owns the Cruise Bar at the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay. Mr Cheung sold The Bourbon hotel in Kings Cross for $27 million in 2015 to Iris Capital.

– with Lisa Allen

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