Australian Venue Co has confirmed it has signed a sale agreement for the acquisition of Melbourne Pub Group’s The Prince of St Kilda.

The Prince of Wales was built in 1862, as a two-storey residential hotel. In 1937 it was rebuilt in the Art Deco style and expanded to offer two bars at street level, one of which went on to become the state’s longest established gay bar, until a renovation in 2020.

In 1950 the pub opened its Bandroom, which became an icon of Melbourne live music.

In 2015 Jackalope Group purchased the property for $44.5 million, with Melbourne Pub Group (MPG) as tenant. It has seen a multi-million-dollar refurbishment, and in recent years MPG negotiated a new lease.

Mid-2023 the freehold interest came to market, looking for a sale price of $50 million, but after the lacklustre market failed to take up the offering, it recently returned with a revised price of $30 million.

MPG is the hospitality company owned by Gerry Ryan and family, known for the creation of Jayco Caravans. The group formerly held the Middle Park Hotel, and also St Kilda’s Newmarket Hotel. It still operates Mitchelton Estate and Hubert Estate wineries, but has now divested its pub interests.

“After 13 years of reimagining and operating The Prince, it’s time to pass the baton to Australian Venue Co, who will take over our legacy and continue the tradition of true Prince hospitality, where all are welcome, whether the reason is a rock show, a celebration, or a pot of beer!” states Andrew Ryan.

“Whilst there are mixed emotions in saying goodbye, we’re also excited that The Prince and its team are in good hands as the business enters its next chapter in its 162-year history.”

AVC continues to build on its national portfolio, now counting 220 venues, and recently launched its innovative Experience+ in-house media across the collection.

In 2022 the group acquired the Sand Hill Road portfolio, which included St Kilda’s famous The Espy, and now expands its presence in the precinct with the lease on The Prince, active for another eight years plus a 10-year option.

“We have enormous respect for what the Ryan family and team have created with The Prince,” offered AVC CEO Paul Waterson.

“The pub holds a special place in the heart of many Melburnians and has been a mainstay within the St Kilda hospitality scene for decades. 

“We look forward to honouring this rich heritage as we continue to deliver a memorable experience for loyal locals and new customers to The Prince.”

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