The site of South Melbourne pub and horse racing institution The Emerald Hotel has hit the market for the first time in almost half a century.
But the listing of the Clarendon Street building doesn’t mean last drinks just yet — so soon after the watering hole reopened off the back of easing COVID-19 restrictions — with longtime publicans the Lewis family retaining a short-term lease.
The property had attracted early interest at about $6m, JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group vice president Will Connolly said, with its reputation as a favourite among sports stars and fans a selling point.
Jockey Michelle Payne notably celebrated her historic 2015 Melbourne Cup win at the pub, while 1992 Cup winner Subzero was photographed popping into the bar with lifelong carer Graham Salisbury in 1999.
One of the biggest coups in VFL/AFL history was also carried out at the hotel, when Allen Aylett, Ron Joseph and Albert Mantello met Ron Barassi for lunch and poached him from Carlton to coach North Melbourne from 1973.
Barassi famously agreed to the move by signing a paper napkin and two years later, North won the flag.
Mr Connolly said the listing was a rare opportunity as the vendors, the Hart family, had owned it for 48 years while the Lewis family had also leased it for about three decades.
And it offered flexibility to buyers who, when the lease ended, might opt to keep on the “successful tenants”, take over as publican, or “take advantage of the favourable (Commercial 1) zoning” and develop the site.
The building occupies a 667sq m block on the corner of Raglan Street, close to the CBD, Crown Casino and Albert Park Lake. It features a bistro, restaurant, sports bar with TAB facilities and a beer garden, while also offering a footpath dining option on Clarendon Street.
Mr Connolly said Melbourne’s hospitality sector was gaining confidence “as each day goes by” towards a COVID-normal summer.
The Emerald Hotel’s listing — via an expressions of interest campaign closing December 4 — follows the sale of South Melbourne’s Wayside Inn, for about $3.7m to a new publican, in the middle of Melbourne’s stage four lockdown.
Mr Connolly is also seeking expressions of interest for Port Melbourne restaurant Ciao Cielo, with early interest in the vicinity of $7m.
Both the business and the heritage building it’s housed in — the 1860s former Port Melbourne Courthouse at 115 Bay Street — are for sale.
The building recently underwent a $1.5m restoration and now features a restaurant and bar, two private dining rooms, a casual eatery and a covered beer garden.
Owner and operator Kate Dickens said: “We have been blessed to have restored … one of Melbourne’s most beautiful buildings (but) we are convinced that the timing is right (to sell), given Melbourne is now commencing its own reopening.
“It will provide an incoming operator the chance to take the reins in early 2021 when 2020 will be but a distant memory.”