It’s been a massive month for hospitality tycoon Justin Hemmes. He’s made his biggest-ever property purchase, snapping up the Kings Green site in Sydney CBD, and is pressing ahead with his $1.5billion redevelopment of the Ivy.
Hemmes paid around $200million for the Kings Green site – four heritage-style buildings in the King, Clarence and York Street precinct between Town Hall and Wynyard – and plans to transform them into a high-end bar and restaurant precinct.
The buildings have been purchased from the TrueGreen Positive Impact Group, which planned to build a 49-storey green office tower by 2026. Instead, Hemmes will renovate the existing buildings.
According to The Australian, the Kings Green site “is expected to sport the latest in up-market cuisine and some of the favourites in existing Merivale establishments could one day be housed in the new venue, potentially when Hemmes finally decides to overhaul the Ivy.”
Hemmes also remains committed to his ambition to build a skyscraper on the Ivy site on Sydney’s George Street. Ivy is currently home to more than Merivale outlets, as well as a ballroom and penthouse that are used for functions. Hemmes spent $150 million on the precinct prior to it opening in 2008.
In 2019, the pub baron revealed his plans for a $1.5billion redevelopment of the Ivy complex. Hemmes told The Australian at the time that he planned a 52,500sq m tower opposite Wynyard Station, adding a substantial office component, a luxury hotel and a hospitality precinct.
The project is expected to take up to seven years to complete, with world-class local and international architects to be engaged in a design competition for the proposed five-star extravaganza.
Hemmes describes his plan to redevelop the site to the Sydney Morning Herald as the “biggest challenge of my life” and a “game-changer” for Merivale.
“Ivy was always bought as a development site, and the building that we put there was always a holding site,” he said. “The time is right to do a redevelopment that speaks to George Street and reimagines how people work, connect and socialise in the city. We have to create amazing spaces in the city to encourage people back into the city. We have to reimagine how they work, what a workplace looks like, and blur the lines between the workplace and social space and the public space.”