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Hong Kong’s Ovolo snaps up Brisbane’s Emporium Hotel for $40m



Hong Kong's Ovolo snaps up Brisbane's Emporium Hotel for $40m Read more: Follow us: @FinancialReview on Twitter | financialreview on Facebook

Hong Kong-based boutique hotel chain Ovolo has snapped up the Emporium Hotel in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley for about $40 million in the first major hospitality deal of the year.

It is the second Brisbane hotel acquired by Ovolo Hotels in the space of seven months after it acquired the 50-room New Inchcolm Hotel & Suites in Brisbane for $16.5 million in June.

The 102-room Emporium Hotel at 1000 Ann Street was sold by its founder and managing director, Tony John, of the Anthony John Group. It opened in 2007, when it was positioned as Brisbane’s first luxury boutique hotel.

Hotel amenities include a rooftop pool, gm and sauna, cocktail bar and patisserie as well as conferencing and events centre.

Mr John said he had decided the time was right to sell the Fortitude Valley property as it would “allow the team time to focus on the 2018 opening of our luxury boutique Southpoint Emporium Hotel”.

Ovolo’s latest aquisition means the hotel chain, founded by Girish Jhunjhnuwala in 2002, now has five hotels in Australia, with two Sydney hotels in Woolloomooloo and Darling Harbour and one on Little Bourke Street in the centre of Melbourne.

“The Emporium Hotel in Brisbane was an obvious choice for the brand given its incredible success to date, its boutique nature and appealing location in the Fortitude Valley retail and dining precinct,” Mr Jhunjhnuwala said.

“We are excited to take this fantastic property to the next level with Ovolo’s signature luxury design interiors and all-inclusive hospitality concept,” he added.

The sale of the Emporium was brokered off-market by CBRE Hotels national director Wayne Bunz, who said it was a very positive sign for the local market heading into a new year.

“The sale highlights investors’ growing interest in the Brisbane hotel market. CBRE continue to field investor demand for investment opportunities, with the Emporium Hotel sale negotiated in a record time of just four weeks,” Mr Bunz said.

The Hong Kong operator’s flagship Ovolo Woolloomooloo and Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour were recently ranked as the second and sixth-best hotels in Australia, according to TripAdvisor’s Travellers Choice Awards 2017.

Ovolo Hotels recently joined the co-working office movement after Ovolo Woolloomooloo signed a co-working deal with start-up TwoSpace, who will set up co-working spaces in the hotel’s lounge. It operates four hotels in Hong Kong.

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QUT Buys $84m Kelvin Grove Office Building



QUT Buys $84m Kelvin Grove Office Building
Queensland University of Technology has snapped up an A-grade office tower in the heart of Kelvin Grove’s Urban Village.

The seven-storey building is a cornerstone building of the inner north Brisbane business hub and has gone unconditional to the main tenant, QUT, with settlement due in April 2018.

QUT leased 9,474sq m from the Queensland-based Cromwell Property Group in the building prior to the acquisition.

In an ASX statement Cromwell chief executive Paul Weightman said Musk Avenue had been a strong 10-year investment.

“Musk Avenue is another example of Cromwell’s ability to invest wisely and actively manage our assets. We continuously review our property portfolio to deliver optimal returns for our investors,” Weightman said.

At its half-yearly results in February, Cromwell announced pro-forma gearing of 38.9 per cent exclusive of the contracted sale of the property.

The office building comprises ground floor retail, six floors of office space and 217 basement carparks.

The 14,144-square metres of net lettable area is leased to QUT, Boral Resources and three ground floor retail tenants.

The building has a 5-Star Green Star Rating and a 5.5-Star NABERS Energy Rating.

On Thursday, Singapore-based ARA Asset Management Limited picked up a 19.5 per cent stake in Cromwell in a deal worth $405 million.

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Iconic Queensland Pub the Normanby Hotel Up for Sale



Iconic Queensland Pub the Normanby Hotel Up for Sale
One of Brisbane’s iconic pubs, The Normanby Hotel, has hit the market for the first time in nearly twenty years with price expectations north of $20 million.

Located at the high profile Normanby Fiveways in inner-Brisbane’s Red Hill it has been co-owned by Michael Dempsey and Otto Wilhelm since 1999.

Built in 1890, the heritage-listed hotel consists of an enormous 3,655 square metre site incorporating the multi-level heritage listed pub and a huge car park. It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register in 1992.

Dempsey said he was selling the hotel in order to concentrate on his core business of property technology through real estate property management software, Console.

He sold his electronics payments business Ezidebit for $305 million in 2014.

The Normanby Hotel freehold and pub operation is being offered for sale by CBRE Hotels.

“The hotel boasts huge underlying value with 35 gaming machines on site offering significant gaming upside potential,” CBRE Hotels’ Queensland director Paul Fraser said.

“On top of this, the prime location of the hotel and the huge expanse of land this asset offers makes it an obvious development play in the future.”

In 2016, a proposal by The Normanby Hotel to build a 15-storey development and underground nightclub next to the hotel was rejected by Brisbane City Council’s City Planning Committee.

The building, which would have contained 14 units, a hotel, short-term accommodation, a nightclub and a shop, was planned to be built on the Normanby Hotel’s car park. The committee voted unanimously in favour of opposing the plans on the basis of the height and size of the proposed hotel tower.

The Normanby Hotel also used to house one of Brisbane’s most well-known trees, a 100-year-old fig tree, that had to be removed from the site in 2016 after a severe storm knocked it over.

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Sydney to Hobart veteran Peter Harburg selling remaining $150m properties



Sydney to Hobart veteran Peter Harburg selling remaining $150m properties Read more: Follow us: @FinancialReview on Twitter | financialreview on Facebook

Sydney to Hobart sailing veteran Peter Harburg has made a call to sell two of his last major office towers in Brisbane worth well over $150 million, including Westpac’s local headquarters.

Mr Harburg, who has completed 12 Sydney to Hobart races in the famous Blackjack yacht, said the market was strong and that influenced his decision to sell out.

“I’m 76 now and I think it’s time to start doing more important things like sailing boats and driving cars,” Mr Harburg told The Australian Financial Review.

“The market is very strong at the moment – it’s a supply and demand thing and at the moment the demand is very strong and this has certainly helped influence the decision to sell.”

Peter Harburg on his boat Blackjack. "I'm 76 now and I think it's time to start doing more important things like sailing ...

Peter Harburg on his boat Blackjack. “I’m 76 now and I think it’s time to start doing more important things like sailing boats.” Glenn Hunt

Mr Harburg acquired a number of Brisbane office buildings over the years, including 50 Ann Street which he has since sold for $131.8 million to Asian group Capital Trust and 348 Edward Street Brisbane which he sold to US property group Hines for about $50 million.

Now his private investment company Harburg Investments has appointed CBRE’s Bruce Baker, Tom Phipps and Flint Davidson to steer the sale of his remaining CBD assets – 260 Queen Street and 95 North Quay – with the assets to be offered either as a portfolio or individually.

Mr Baker said the campaign was expected to attract significant interest given that both properties were extremely well located and offered different income streams and capital-related outcomes.

“Last year was a very active year for the Brisbane office investment market, with new investors and foreign capital attracted by the comparatively attractive yield spread to Sydney and Melbourne,” Mr Baker said.

“A well-researched consensus is that Brisbane offers net effective rental growth going forward over the next five years, with Brisbane having become the second fastest growing white-collar employment market in the country.”

The boutique A-grade building at 95 North Quay, in Brisbane's legal precinct, is predominantly occupied by barristers ...
The boutique A-grade building at 95 North Quay, in Brisbane’s legal precinct, is predominantly occupied by barristers and legal professionals and provides a current net lettable area of 8710sq m. Supplied

Key drawcard

The agents describe the tower at 260 Queen Street – occupied by anchor tenant Westpac since it was constructed – as an “iconic core office asset and arguably Brisbane’s best located asset”.

The building has a net lettable area of 13,300 square metres and offers large 1000sq m podium floor plates with 20 high-rise floors above.

A prime retail amenity is located on the ground floor, the majority of which is occupied by Westpac as a retail banking chambers.

“The building’s super prime Queen Street location near Central Train Station and the Queen Street Mall shopping precinct will be a key drawcard for prospective purchasers and tenants alike,” CBRE’s Mr Phipps said.

“There is existing development approval for a glass box-style podium refurbishment as well as the potential to extend the existing floor plates and/or reconfigure the retail space.”

The boutique A-grade building at 95 North Quay, in Brisbane’s legal precinct, is predominantly occupied by barristers and legal professionals and provides a current net lettable area of 8710sq m.

“While the building is currently 58 per cent occupied, there is a clear opportunity to ‘re-set’ the asset to capitalise on Brisbane’s improving occupier market,” Mr Phipps said.


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