Oxford St art deco icon gets investors and developers foaming

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A MAJOR peninsular site in the heart of Oxford Street could play a key role in the strip’s transformation, with the freeholds of the adjoining 64-room Arts Hotel and art deco Three Weeds pub put to the market with vacant possession.

The Paddington site spans 1,142 sqm at 21-33 Oxford Street and is being shopped around just as the City of Sydney unanimously endorsed new draft planning rules to ease development controls in a move that could introduce 53,000 sqm of new employment and cultural space.

Knight Frank’s Mike Wheatley and Jonathan Vaughan together with Ralph Garofano and Daniel Marano of Oxford Agency are conjunctional marketing agents for the property, acting for real estate investor, developer and manager April Group.

It has a 42 metre north facing frontage to the strip and should a new owner take on the existing improvements, has a floor area of 2,366 sqm.

Parts of central Oxford Street are already set for an overhaul. Joint venture partners Toga and AsheMorgan are planning to revitalise three heritage buildings to deliver 13,000 sqm of lettable floor area in the middle of the stretch, while Moelis Australia is planning a new hospitality precinct at Taylor Square after adding the Kinselas Hotel to its recently acquired neighbour the Courthouse Hotel, and the City of Sydney will explore and consult on alternative height options for development facing Taylor Square.

On either side of Oxford Street, St Vincent’s Hospital acquired LGBTQI+ icon The Green Park Hotel nearby to convert into a mental health clinic, while the leasehold interest of the Olympic Hotel in Paddington was bought by former Newcastle publican Wayne Lambert.

Expressions of interest campaign for 21-33 Oxford Street closes 16th June.

This offering comes as hotels and pubs across the country are changing hands at breakneck speed. Earlier this week Hotel Hollywood in Surry Hills sold for $9 million to the Petersen Group and Brisbane’s popular pub, Little Big House was snapped up by Brett Fitzpatrick.

A fortnight ago the Grafton Hotel sold for the first time in 41 years whilst pub tsar Justin Hemmes quenched his insatiable thirst with the acquisition of the Cheeky Monkeys Bar and Restaurant in thriving Byron Bay which came on hot the heels of him splashing $62 million for Norton’s Irish Pub in inner western Sydney and the Lorne Hotel on Victoria’s surf coast four days earlier. And last month ASX-listed Hotel Property Investments bought five regional pubs for $32.7 million, and Harvest Hotels acquired Dubbo’s historic Milestone Hotel.

At the same time a syndicate led by Sam Cruikshank and local pub identity Sean O’Hara also bought a Wagga Wagga hotel and said they “paid more than” what they wanted but “in the long run it will be a great investment”, whilst Darlinghurst’s The Strand Hotel was sold as a freehold going concern for $17 million.

While it has put the Oxford Street holding to the market, April Group has splashed out $12 million for the freehold interest of a Balmain office asset and the leasehold interest of the adjoining wharf.

With a prominent waterfront position along Sydney Harbour and just minutes from the Sydney CBD, 7 Cooper Street is currently fully occupied by Australia’s largest employer of seafarers, Svitzer Australia under a four year lease.

The property comprises three levels of office accommodation on a 1,348 sqm freehold site, along with 5,920 sqm of leasehold interest in the adjoining wharf.

April Group made the acquisition on a 3.87% yield.

The deal was negotiated by Tim Grosmann and Lucy Abram of Savills, who said: “As office tenants reassess their space requirements, there is strong interest in the suburban markets, especially with specific headquartered properties that have essential requirements, in this instance, a wharf.

“In the post-pandemic world, investors are aggressively pursuing these specialised alternative office assets.

“7 Cooper Street’s large site area and exclusive wharf access coupled with the strong fringe location promises secure, lasting tenant demand.”

April Group owns $470 million worth of commercial and residential properties in and around the Sydney CBD, and typically aims to acquire sites close to heavy rail and infrastructure with a view to intensive asset management.

Its assets include Habitat House in Surry Hills, home to Blackmores, Sony and Guzman y Gomez all occupy. April Group repositioned the property with a focus wellness and more collaborative spaces.

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