In Property by Clyde Mooney

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After more than four decades at the bar, the Aidone brothers have sold their beloved Central Club Hotel in North Melbourne for a record-setting $7.925 million.

The two-storey Central Club Hotel sits on a corner of Victoria Street, with triple street frontage. In recent decades it has become surrounded by new residential, hotel and student accommodation and office developments, with more major projects in the works.

The Hotel itself holds Flexible Capital City zoning, bringing development or conversion potential.

The Aidone family has owned and operated the pub since 1975. Seeing the escalating prices for Melbourne freeholds, with thoughts of a change in lifestyle they listed the pub as a vacant possession through CBRE Hotels and Cropley Commercial.

Last week it went to auction, holding a reserve of $5.8 million.

Four parties showed interest, but the final bid came from the Victorian branch of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF).

“We’re over the moon … just a great day, a great auction,” John Aidone relayed to PubTIC.

Due to hand over in April, John will end 42 years in the game, and says he’s looking forward to doing “nothing at all” for a while.

“We’ve worked weekends all our lives, myself and my brothers, and now we’ve decided it’s time to get out of the industry and just do something Monday to Friday.

“It’s been long and hard – it’s just time for a lifestyle change … kids, family, it’s time to give back to them now. We’ll have a bit of time off and a break, bit of a holiday, and just see from there.”

Having only known working life at the pub, John says he was very happy with the divestment process.

“The whole thing was just fantastic. We as a family could not have wanted anything better. They made us feel really comfortable.”

As a freehold vacant possession, the sale price represented a whopping $26k per square metre, reportedly a local land record.

The ANMF intend short-term to retain the Hotel as a pub, and are seeking a suitable operator.

Longer-term the Union will likely make use of the site’s height limit to develop upwards, furthering the eight existing rooms and aiding its plans to utilise the property as accommodation for visiting members of its 80,000-strong constituency. It recently built a conference and training centre in Elizabeth Street, which has access to the Hotel via O’Connell Street.

Victorian hospitality assets have shown some of the most aggressive yield compression in the country in the past year, and the reserve-busting price was typical of the mood of buyers.

“The energy in the room on the day was very unique and you could feel that everyone there was just so happy for the Aidone family when the final call was made,” said CBRE’s Will Connolly.