Property developer snares iconic Potts Point building

The iconic site at 61-63 Macleay St, Potts Point.
The iconic site at 61-63 Macleay St, Potts Point.

A property developer has paid a premium price for pub baron Justin Hemmes’s landmark property in Potts Point, Richardson and Wrench Elizabeth Bay agent Jason Boon has confirmed exclusively.

“He just wanted a trophy building,” Boon says of the sale of 61-63 Macleay St, which occurred just 90 minutes before the property, in the Hemmes family for 31 years, was set to go under the hammer.

Boon is bound by confidentiality agreements, unable to confirm the sale price or the identity of the buyer.

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But with rumours there’d been offers of more than $13 million for the Art Deco building comprising of two commercial premises with four apartments above, it’s understood the sale price was well in excess of that figure.

Boon is unsure of what the developer’s plans are for the site, though he assumes existing tenants — Merivale’s Fish Shop and a clothes shop — may stay for the time being.

Justin Hemmes’s father, the late John Hemmes and his wife, Merivale had paid $1.428 million for the three-level property — on the corner of Challis Ave — in 1988.

An aerial view of the Potts Point site.

Local shopkeepers speculated that the prominent millionaire property developer Theo Onisforou may have been behind the purchase, but they later dismissed this is as unlikely since the site came with no parking.

Others suggested that John McNiven and his wife, Jo, who sold a Challis Ave terrace for $12.5 million in 2017 to Ron Medich — who sold it January for an Australian terrace record price of $14 million — may be the buyers.

They have a penchant for Challis Ave property and are known to be looking for another Potts Point development opportunity.

Boon was also spotted meeting with the owners of Fratelli — Urban Purveyor Group — the same company that counts Sake, the Bavarian Bier Cafe franchise and the Argyle Bar among its ventures — leading to speculation they may be the buyers.

The site had been in Justin Hemmes’s family for 31 years. Picture: Nic Walker.

Another property developer and Potts Point fan — Heidi Onisforou, Theo Onisforou’s former wife — said she hadn’t bought it.

She’d sold her Challis Ave terrace for $13 million in 2016, which had set a record then. And she has a beautiful apartment on the next Macleay St corner set for May 23 auction with a $7 million guide and a Victoria St terrace for June 1 with a $5.75 million guide.

Onisforou was at a loss to know how Hemmes could part with such an iconic site that has been in his family for so long.

She says she has “no idea” as to who the buyers were, though she’s not surprised that it sold for such a big price.

“No matter what’s going on in the market, Potts Point is in its own league,” she says.

“It’s really aspirational, it’s all about lifestyle and restaurants — that’s why Ben Stewart from CBRE got $50,000 per sqm up at the Omnia penthouse … everything is at your fingertips.”

This article from the Wentworth Courier originally appeared as “‘He wanted a trophy’: Developer pays $13m+ for Hemmes site”.