Chinese buyers snap up storied Double Bay hotel

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Sydney’s wealthy eastern suburbs are attracting a host of aggressive Chinese development and investment groups seeking to cash in on the rising demand for luxury ­accommodation and homes in the area.

In the largest deal, the InterContinental Hotel in Sydney’s Double Bay, a property best known for its association with the late INXS rocker Michael Hutchence, has been bought by a pair of Chinese multinationals for about $140 million.

The two buyers — Shanghai United Real Estate and Zobon Real Estate Group — will bring one of China’s largest consortiums to the high-end Sydney enclave. Shanghai United, set up by 10 of China’s top property firms, including Zobon, has $2 billion to spend over the next five years in Australia and its interest in the hotel was revealed by The Australian last week.

It is not the only Chinese player getting into Double Bay. China’s Golden Age Development Group was an early mover and will complete a 37-apartment project on New South Head Road next year.

China’s SJD Property Group recently paid $55m to buy a complex on nearby Cross Street from the wealthy Roche family. It carries approval for a major apartment project and would mark a step up for the group that has been active in the northern Sydney suburbs of Lane Cove and Epping.

Another Chinese-backed developer, Loftex, is also moving into the area. It bought a showroom on New South Head Road for $35.325m from local property developer Anka. It has built apartments across Sydney’s northern suburbs and the inner west, but the Double Bay project will its first move in the eastern suburbs.

Shanghai United is a much larger operation and has struck hotel deals across Sydney, where it already controls five projects. Just this week it announced a partnership with French giant ­AccorHotels Pacific.

The 140-room Double Bay hotel — previously the Stamford Plaza and the Ritz Carlton — underwent a lavish $100m renovation at the hands of Singapore’s Royal Brothers and two partners who purchased the property in 2013.

In a previous life, the hotel was the scene of the unfortunate death of rock star Hutchence in 1997.

The sales process was led by Craig Collins of JLL Hotels and Hospitality Group and Richard Abbott of Holman Fenwick Willan. “The Sydney hotel market is hot and in my 22 years of selling hotels I have never seen it this strong,” Mr Collins said.

By BEN WILMOT and LISA ALLEN
The Australian

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