RIVERSDALE’S KINSELAS – SALE WITH UNIVERSAL APPEAL

In Property by Clyde Mooney

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The Kospetas family’s Universal Hotels has secured Riversdale’s iconic Kinselas Hotel, stepping up its strategy around embedding modern hospitality in historic settings.

Rumours the three-level landmark at Oxford Street’s Taylor Square was on the market began late last year, even before the Marlborough Hotel was officially listed, and before the surprise sale of three Riversdale pubs at once for $48m in the days before Christmas.

Australian Pub Fund (APF), the hotel sector investment vehicle for famed business trio John Singleton, Geoff Dixon and Mark Carnegie, determined the smoking hot Sydney pub market was at the right point to divest some – or all – of the string of hotels it built up in the few years following the GFC.

Executing their own brand of media-teasing on- and off-market campaigns on its dozen largely high-profile pubs, managed by its Riversdale Group operations arm, APF has now sold six freehold going concerns, most recently with Bruce Solomon and Matt Moran’s purchasing Newtown’s big-format Marly Hotel.

The high-profile yet off-market sale of Kinselas was conducted by Ray White Hotels Asia-Pacific director Andrew Jolliffe, and while price was not disclosed, it was expressed to be “consistent with market guidance”, which sources say was close to $23 million.

“The sale of Kinselas is consistent with the fund’s previously announced strategic objectives to sell our pubs at cap rates that reflect their market value, as well as illustrating our desire to deal at market value with experienced buyers,” announced APF director Matthew Beach.

The Federation-era Kinselas has long been a staple of the Oxford St scene, positioned at the juncture to Surry Hills and the broader Eastern suburbs, its multiple storeys have seen many incarnations pitched to generations of partygoers.

“Kinselas attracts patronage from numerous sources, and given its expansive three-level layout, often has three distinct patron base complexions at a given point in time, which provides it with great income diversity,” reports Riversdale CEO Andrew Gibbs.

Universal prides itself on reinvigorating heritage venues and employing multiple revenue streams, making Kinselas an ideal addition to its existing portfolio.

Led by patriarch Jim Kospetas and operated by son Harris, the family moved into the hotel market from a background in running university venues and a catering company, purchasing the Civic Hotel in Sydney’s CBD in the mid-90s, which it still operates, along with Hotel Downing, Vbar Sydney, and restaurant 1821 in Martin Place.

Its pedigree has bred the group’s focus on “great food, entertainment and atmosphere” and although it is too early for plans for Kinselas, Jim Kospetas told PubTIC they are proud to take on the old pub.

“Our hope is to build on the already great foundation of Kinselas, focusing on a greater food and entertainment offering and activating its presence in an iconic part of Oxford Street.”

Buoyed by his recent record-setting sale of Merrylands’ Coolibah Hotel for $40m, Jolliffe says Kinselas’ multi-faceted offering, full suite of gaming and “deliberate connection to music” mean it will continue to be an all-hours big-trader.

“Kinselas, since its inception as a hotel in 1910, has been a very popular entertainment magnet and a mainstay upon the Sydney hospitality landscape.”