Making the most of Kings Cross’ reluctant transformation to residential, cashed-up Iris Capital Group has acquired three adjacent blocks on Darlinghurst Road.

It has been revealed Sam Arnaout’s Iris Group has completed the purchase of the Empire Hotel – adjacent to its recently acquired backpacker lodge – adjacent to The Bourbon, which it purchased from Chris Cheung in April.

Just two months ago, Iris sold its nearby Mercure complex – replete with approved development for boutique apartments through the 19-storey building – to Chinese developer Greenland Group.

The purchase of the Empire could open the door to a large-scale development atop The Bourbon site, potentially encompassing street-level revised hospitality offerings with the two highly-prized liquor licences.

In an interview in June, Arnaout refused to speculate on the direction for the troubled Kings Cross precinct, but felt sure whatever the Group did at The Bourbon location would include continuation of the iconic hotel.

PubTIC was unable to secure a response from Arnaout in time for this publication.

The Empire is believed to have been sold off-market by private investors through CBRE Hotels and JLL Hotels, who are unable to comment.

The Hotel last sold in mid-2013 for around $12 million to a private investor, who purchased it after 20 years’ ownership by David Kingston’s Capital group.

One month ago receivers announced the fire sale of award-winning Kings Cross venue Hugos, after crippling loss of trade resulting from the trade restrictions on the area saw revenue drop 60 per cent and the business become unsustainable.


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