More than six years after purchasing the iconic The Bourbon in Kings Cross, Iris Group has secured approval on its $65 million redevelopment of the landmark site.

Ten months after submitting the latest proposal, Iris found unanimous approval through the Central Sydney Planning Committee last night, with the government architect and Lord Mayor highly complementary, describing the project as an “exemplar, and a new benchmark for the city”.

The accumulated lot at 18-32A Darlinghurst Road, Potts Point includes both The Bourbon and the Empire hotels, which Iris bought in April 2015 and August 2015 respectively.

The massive re-development, projected to cost $65,444,808 to build, covers a gross floor area of 19,796sqm. Beyond the two re-worked pubs, which will operate 24 hours, every day, it will offer a medical centre, retail tenancies, hotel accommodation, and 52 residential apartments, plus a basement level. 

The design is the work of TZG Architects and Panov Scott Architects. It includes particular consideration for the historic Bourbon building; the existing façade will be retained and conserved, while a missing part of the façade will be reconstructed and original arched openings will be reinstated – both based on historic drawings and photographs.

Darlinghurst road elevation

A previous proposal by Iris for the site, lodged late 2017, was withdrawn in 2018 due to public disapproval, but after more than four years’ concerted effort the masterplan will now proceed.

“It’s been a marathon, not a race,” says Sam Arnaout, Iris CEO. 

Proudly classing themselves as publican-developers, Arnaout took the group in something of a new strategic direction in April, becoming one of Australia’s unicorns and owner of Lasseters Casino, in Alice Springs.

Iris continues its massive redevelopment of Newcastle’s East End, and its operations throughout the Hunter Valley and surrounds.

Aminated about the new-found approval, Arnaout says the end of this race is in sight.

“With construction hopefully starting within the next 12 months, this will single-handedly pivot and change the whole of the Kings Cross-Potts Point area,” he says.

“I’m looking forward to it … it’s going to be great. And a long time in the making.” 

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