In Property by Clyde Mooney

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Merivale has furthered its inner-west presence with the $22+ million purchase of APF’s Vic on the Park in Marrickville.

John Singleton, Geoff Dixon and Mark Carnegie’s Australian Pub Fund (APF), backer to Riversdale, has been selling down its high-value portfolio, Vic on the Park representing the seventh sale, leaving just Balmain’s Unity Hall, and The Elephant and Stock Exchange Hotels in Brisbane.

Conversely, Justin Hemmes’ Merivale has continued its trailblazing expansion, now with three pubs in Sydney’s inner-west, and its total portfolio of licensed venues now numbering in the 60s. The Vic joins the ‘spur of the moment’ purchase of the endangered Alexandria mid-2016, and the now relaunched Queens Hotel, in Enmore.

The latest purchase closely follows Hemmes buying PHMG’s The Collaroy for $21m in August, and the record-breaking auction acquisition of JDA’s Tennyson Hotel for $37m last December, each growing the Group’s ‘To-Do’ list of upcoming new offerings.

Merivale has also cited the next stage of The Newport to open early 2018, and Hemmes says Alexandria is “in the pipeline”.

The Vic on the Park saw a significant make-over and rebrand in early 2013, following Riversdale/APF’s $6.95 million purchase of it as the Vic Enmore mid-2012.

The pub has a proud history as a bar for the local’s, which has come to reflect local hipster success stories such as Young Henrys, and the continuation of the inner-west’s niche for live music.

Unlike the majority of opportunities Hemmes takes on, destined for the Merivale magic that has invigorated so many under-cooked operations and precincts, The Vic already embodies many of the things Merivale embrace and is seen as a good fit for the Group.

“Vic on the park will be business as usual … no obvious changes,” Hemmes told PubTIC.

“It has long been at the heart of Marrickville, a vibrant community hub where people of all ages and walks of life can come together. We have loved being part of the inner-west since opening Queens last year, and can’t wait to take on what is undoubtedly an important and cherished venue in the area.”

APF director Matthew Beach says they will continue with plans for divestment of their pub assets, but also cites the Group’s ongoing search for investment opportunities from “both within and outside the hospitality-based property sector”.

The large-format Vic on the Park occupies 1,247sqm on the corner of Addison and Enmore Roads, with a very successful food & bev operation, 25 gaming machines and annual revenue of over $7.46m.

The EOI campaign for APF was conducted by CBRE Hotels’ national director Daniel Dragicevich and Ray White Hotels’ Asia-Pacific director Andrew Jolliffe, attracting broad interest.

Agents would not be drawn on the exact price, but confirmed it was in the “predicted range” of $22-25 million – the top-dollar land value and favourable zoning posing several potential futures for the asset.

“We employed a strategic and very public sales campaign involving both national print and digital media levers, and the response was consistent with our expectations for an A-grade property holding of this commercial complexion,” stated Jolliffe.

“The mixed development momentum within the precinct the hotel is situated, meant we received considerable enquiry from both hoteliers and developers; and the likelihood of future land value accretion given the potential for alternative uses, was almost certainly a potent attractor for astute investors,” added Dragicevich.

Merivale will take the keys in mid-November, adding another notch to its book of successful venues.

“We have a self-imposed mandate to grow this wonderful business both deliberately and responsibly, and wherever we see property-backed opportunities for us to create unique experiences for our loyal client base,” said Hemmes.

Vic on the Park