Gurner Moves into Hotels

Melbourne rich lister Tim Gurner has announced plans to develop a boutique hotel, partnering with Sydney-based chain Veriu to deliver a 95-key “residential-inspired” hotel at his Johnston Street, Collingwood project.

The move marks the developer’s second move to diversify away from Melbourne’s cooling residential market, after he submitted plans for an office project a year ago.

Gurner will now return to council to seek a new planning application for the Veriu-branded hotel and a 700sq m retail component to occupy the tower’s two ground levels.

The $120 million project was the subject of a major dispute between the developer and Victorian planning minister Richard Wynne, who halted the project to amend height controls in the Johnston Street precinct.

In lodging a claim in the Victorian Supreme Court against the planning minister, Gurner said Wynne acted “beyond his power” in intervening to alter planning controls.

The developer quietly discontinued proceedings against the planning minister after the first directions hearing in the Victorian Supreme Court in February.

Related: Gurner Ditches 'Las Vegas' Design, Wins Council Approval

Gurner slated his $120m mixed-use development at 23-33 Johnston Street, Collingwood, for the site of the first hotel concept.
Gurner slated his $120m mixed-use development at 23-33 Johnston Street, Collingwood, for the site of the first hotel concept.Supplied.

The news comes less than a week after Veriu announced its foray into the Melbourne market, with a 111-key hotel at the historic Munro site at Queen Victoria Market.

The rapidly-expanding hotel chain acquired 13 hotels from the Punthill Apartment Hotel Group, and has at least three Melbourne hotels in its immediate pipeline.

The strategic partnership will allow the developer to hold and retain ownership of the proposed hotel and retail components of the Johnston Street project — part of a longer-term outlook, Gurner says.

“Our diversification into commercial and now, hotel developments, allows us the flexibility to retain ownership over a number of these sites.

“Our dual model allows us to also offer the luxury hotel services to the owners of our residences, too, so a resident would be able to valet-park their car, order room service and request a nightly turn-down service, to deliver an unparalleled living experience in a way that is not currently offered on a local scale.”

The developer said that initial concepts include a hotel bar and rooftop pool along with a porte-cochere and valet.

“Our proposed hotel and residences complex is located adjacent to the Cultural Arts Precinct [and] will help establish this part of Collingwood as one of Melbourne’s most important cultural and residential pockets.”

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