In Property by Clyde Mooney

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Oscars Hotels has snapped up another inner west landmark, taking title to the freehold going concern of Parramatta Road icon the Empire Hotel, in Annandale.

Built circa 1890 for Tooth’s & Co, the three-storey Empire, particularly its façade, was refashioned in the twentieth century in a more modernist, Art Deco styling, which it still embraces.

Occupying a prominent 803sqm corner site, it comprises public bar, bistro, lounge areas and gaming room with 16 machines, and 24 large accommodation rooms on the upper levels. It also counts a two-level commercial office space at the rear, currently underutilized.

The Hotel’s freehold has been the property of Sam D’agostino, with Eric Armstrong operating the business, and the accommodation sub-leased.

The vendors engaged JLL Hotels’ Nick Butler to broker the complete entity in a complex off-market deal. The final figure paid by the Gravanis brothers is understood to be north of $10 million.

Application for a late-trading licence, from midnight to 3am, was secured as the deal settled, and a DA has been approved to remodel the gaming room, currently ranked #677.

Oscars own and operate around two-dozen pubs in New South Wales, including former live music den the Annandale Hotel, just blocks from the Empire, and a similar distance away the Camperdown Hotel, arguably the best-performing pub in the state for ten EGMs.

Success in repositioned pub accommodation in recent years may see the group make more of the Empire’s proposition, in walking distance to Sydney University, by converting the commercial space to another half-dozen large rooms.

“Fundamentally the Empire is an exceptionally presented hotel and a great piece of city fringe property, with the potential to add more rooms, and clearly an underdone gaming trading opportunity,” suggests Butler.

“Following gaming earnings, accommodation has more recently become a new high-margin sought after revenue stream, with many hoteliers looking to properly activate their rooms.”

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