Saga continues: Sorrento’s Continental Hotel sold again

Sorrento’s trouble-plagued Continental Hotel has sold again. Picture: Christian Tatman
Sorrento’s trouble-plagued Continental Hotel has sold again. Picture: Christian Tatman

Sorrento’s trouble-plagued Continental Hotel has sold to a prominent Melbourne developer.

Land title documents obtained by the Herald Sun show Trenerry Consortium Landco Pty Ltd placed a caveat on the 145-year-old heritage building on April 27.

By lodging a caveat, a buyer can prevent others from registering interest in a property ahead of theirs.

The price achieved by the landmark hotel has not been disclosed, but the figure is understood to be in the vicinity of $14.5 million.

An artist’s impression of what the redeveloped Continental Hotel would have looked like.

The Ocean Beach Rd property hit the market in March, after the Supreme Court of Victoria ruled to end its previous contract of sale amid repeated issues with its $100 million redevelopment.

This effectively took control out of the hands of owner Continental Development Pty Ltd and its director Julian Gerner, and put it in the hands of receivers PKF Melbourne.

Colliers International selling agent Guy Wells said at the time that no price guide had been set for the property, with “all offers” to be considered during its international expressions of interest campaign, which closed on April 22.

He added the building was “largely gutted internally” and needed “an extensive amount of work to finish it off”.

“How (the buyer) wants to finish it off will be up to them,” Wells said in March.

Sorrento Continental Hotel

The Continental Hotel at Sorrento on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.

Wells was unable to comment on the specifics of the sale, but says the “inquiry level was strong” from mostly local buyers during the campaign.

“That was probably a reflection of the asset rather than the market,” he says

“Given when we launched this, the offshore groups were in the middle of the COVID upheaval, they couldn’t act on it. But I don’t think they were ever going to be the buyer, as it needed someone who understands the area and asset.”

He says the Sorrento community has been “asking and waiting for” the landmark hotel to reopen for years and while the sale was a positive step forward, “it’s still going to be some time before that vision is realised” due to the scale of the redevelopment.

PKF Melbourne declined to comment, while Trenerry Property Group is yet to respond to Herald Sun requests for comment.

Trenerry Property Group is also building the $300 million West End project in West Melbourne and has completed developments in Camberwell, Abbotsford and Hawthorn East, according to its website.

Gerner bought the hotel for a reported $15 million in 2015. He also secured a neighbouring piece of land as well as heritage and planning approvals for a $22 million redevelopment, Leader Newspapers
previously reported.

In 2017, he briefly listed the property for more than $20 million after realising he couldn’t fund the redevelopment.

But instead of selling, he entered into a joint venture to renovate the building with developer Steller Group, with work starting in 2018.

The first stage featuring a new bar and bistro, fine dining and function area was due to open by September 2019 and the second stage, comprising a wellness centre, a 60-room hotel, a cafe, pool and whisky bar, by this March. But Stellar went bust in April 2019, stalling the project.

Gerner almost sold the landmark hotel to LBA Capital for $21 million last year, but the deal fell through.

This article from The Herald Sun originally appeared as “Continental Hotel, Sorrento sold to developer Trenerry Property Group”.