In Property by Clyde Mooney

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A Melbourne-based property developer has taken its first step into the pub game with the purchase of an almost-built site begun by Tom Hedley a decade ago.

The Queensland-based Hedley Group was one of the high-flying pub developer operations buying and building prior to the GFC, which subsequently sank it and others when values plummeted and banks began calling in debt over LVR breaches.

Hedley Group purchased the almost 10,000 m² lot in south Townsville for $6.9 million. It secured approval for the liquor licence, permits for 45 EGMs and a development application. Construction began, with a concrete slab being poured, before the walls of finance began crumbling and work ceased.

Ten years later, commercial property syndicator Peak Equities P/L recently completed the $22 million acquisition of a site at Stuart Drive, where it is furthering a food-focused shopping centre with more than 30 options.

Located between the Murray Sporting Complex and the Lavarack Barracks army base, Peak’s The Precinct is adjacent to the abandoned Hedley block, which still held its permits and was something of a nuisance asset on the books of a large fund.

Peak executed due diligence and concluded the sale price of $1.4m was considerably less than the land value alone, and felt it was the final piece in The Precinct they needed.

David Borsky

“We see opportunity to not only enhance The Precinct, but the adjacent block as part of a master plan for an outdoor promenade area to bring more people to the pub and The Precinct … turn it into a very broad offering and attractive place for the local people to enjoy,” explained Peak Equities COO David Borsky.

Headed by career chartered accountant Tom Borsky, Peak sees the Townsville region as rife with potential and not subject to the downturns being experienced in some Queensland regions.

It now aims to secure the right partner to run the venture, and work with them on the suitability of and amendments to existing plans.

“What we like about Townsville is that its economy isn’t driven by one single factor. It is supported by tertiary education, tourism, mining, agriculture as well as significant government defence and infrastructure spending, so it is immune to cycles to a degree.

“We’re acutely aware that the next step in the success of this venture is finding a high-quality operator.

“Then we are going to look to build a state-of-the-art facility for them and the people of Townsville that will hopefully see them succeed there for a very long time.”

Artist impression of the proposed development by Hedley Group