In Property by Clyde Mooney

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Sam Arnaout has invested further in the Hunter, picking up Cessnock’s famous Peden’s Hotel in the biggest transaction for the region.

Peden’s Hotel is a two-storey corner pub built on 1600sqm in the heart of town, adjacent to the entertainment and theatre precinct. It counts a large bar area and restaurant, nine accommodation rooms and gaming with 18 EGMs.

Originally called the Aberdare Tavern, it became known for successive generations of operation by the Peden family, which also counts local Newcastle Knights legend Billy Peden. More recently the pub was owned by family trusts of the Sylvester and Callaghan families, with Jeff Callaghan manning the taps.

Pedens Hotel Anzac Day 2018

Iris Capital, under Arnaout, has been moving heavily into the Newcastle-Hunter region, most notably leading the massive East End development in Newcastle, and reviving Australia’s oldest operating winery under its original moniker, Dalwood Estate, in the Hunter Valley.

The past couple of years have seen the group ‘bed down’ progressive expansion in the area, and just 30 kilometres from the vineyard, Peden’s presented the ideal situation.

“We’re now looking at opportunities in the region, and Peden’s being so close to our existing operation made too much sense,” explained Arnaout. “We’ll be able to welcome it nicely within the Hunter family.

“We bought a great business from Jeff, and we intend to do nothing more than keep trading on and hopefully we can do as good a job as he’s done with it, and look to continue his legacy to run it as a good pub for the locals. It’s balanced in food, beverage and gaming. It has all the attributes we look for in buying a pub.

“Its strategic town centre position on close to half an acre further solidifies the offering, but we aren’t interested in developing that site, just further optimising the operation.”

Iris is full steam ahead with East End, recently welcoming Woolworths’ decision to be anchor in what will become a new retail village for east Newcastle, making it the first major retailer to take up residence there in seven years, since David Jones’ departure.

Arnaout says the group is excited about the progression, and the confidence this news will give to further future tenants.

“The addition of the Woolworths Metro supermarket there is going to be the catalyst to unlock what is going to be a very successful retail precinct. It further validates the message we’ve been telling Novocastrians and the local community and all stakeholders, that we would work very hard to activate that ground floor – not turn our back on it, but emphasize it with the residential development.”

East End will see four stages, with stage one, due for completion mid-2020, incorporating the supermarket and around 20 other retail stores beneath 220 apartments.

The off-market transaction of Peden’s was executed through area specialist Deane Moore of Moore & Moore Real Estate, who while not disclosing the price insists it was representative of the times.

“The sale represents the largest hotel purchase in the Hunter Valley region to date,” says Moore.

“The asset had substantial growth in all revenue departments, with a large local following, and the region being considered the eighth most visited destination in Australia.”