IRIS PUTTING THE PUB INTO IBIS

Publican-developer Iris Capital has won approval on appeal for its plans to reimagine the Ibis Budget Hotel in Wentworthville into an expanded pub hotel facility.

Located on a busy corner of the Great Western Highway, close to the Cumberland Highway, the site is also well serviced by public transport facilities and buses to the area.

“The proposed development provides a unique opportunity for the holistic redevelopment of this section of the site located in a prominent enterprise zone, interfacing with the highway,” offered the planning documents.

The project is projected to cost more than $28 million, and details demolition of one of the two existing buildings. In its place will come a new pub for up to 400 patrons, with sports bar, bistro, gaming room and beer garden, plus three levels of basement parking, beneath a four-storey accommodation structure.

Building B, on the southern side of the lot, will remain and retain its surrounding parking.

Iris’ plans were rejected in the first half of 2023, as Cumberland Council cited concerns of adverse impact to the local arterial road network and intersection.

But in the new development the number of hotel rooms would actually decrease, from 104 to 102, and the planning document suggests this “would decrease the potential traffic generation” at the site. It is also suggested that visitors to the pub would comprise “primarily of onsite hotel patrons”.

Appealing Council’s decision, amended plans have now been approved by the Land & Environment Court.

The pub is slated to operate 7am-midnight Monday to Saturday, and 7am-10pm on Sundays.

Sam Arnaout’s cashed-up Iris snapped up the entire Ibis Hotels portfolio in late 2020, in a deal reputedly worth around $180 million.

This development is emblematic of the group’s approach to assets and acquisitions, seeking to maximise returns through often innovative use of existing space.

Iris principals declined to comment on the approval at Wentworthville.

Image: Google maps August 2023

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