Iris Capital Plans New Hotel in Newcastle’s East End


Newcastle CBD’s former David Jones building in the city centre is set to be transformed into a luxury boutique hotel later this year.

Sam Arnaout's Iris Capital, the company behind the $700 million Hunter Street mall redevelopment, has partnered with ASX-listed Event Hospitality and Entertainment to secure its latest QT hotel location.

The move coincides with Newcastle city centre's $1.4 billion revival undertaken by the NSW Government, featuring a new multi-modal transport interchange, light rail and revitalisation of land in the heavy rail corridor, including housing, parks, entertainment precincts, and public spaces.

The new hotel, corner of Hunter and Perkins streets, will reflect QT’s much-talked-about luxurious and quirky flair, featuring 106 guest rooms, a boutique rooftop bar, and an intimate dining concept and bar.

Related: Newcastle's Masterplanned East End Applies For Development

The QT Sydney hotel in the Gowings building.
The QT Sydney hotel in the Gowings building.

Iris Capital, who lodged the development application for its masterplanned Newcastle residential development in July 2017, now will press forward with shaping its hotel offering "retaining the landmark building’s heritage features" while "fusing it with the much-loved contemporary charm".

Over the past 12 months, QT operator Event has secured four new locations, building off the success of its first QT-branded hotel opened in Sydney's Gowings building in 2012.

Similar design-led QT establishments are also located in Perth, Melbourne, Canberra, Bondi, Gold Coast, Falls Creek, Queenstown and Wellington.

“We have secured four new QT locations, each unique to ensure we create the QT point of difference,” Event Hospitality and Entertainment chief executive Jane Hastings said.

“Newcastle is Australia’s largest regional centre and with the $700m Iris investment, combined with the $650m NSW government investment, the city is being revitalised and QT will be at the heart of this precinct,” Hastings said.

QT Queenstown opened in December 2017 and QT Perth in July 2018.

QT Newcastle and QT Auckland are scheduled to open in 2020, followed by QT Parramatta and QT Adelaide in 2021.

“We wanted to find an operator that respected the history of the East End and QT has a fantastic track record of transforming heritage buildings respectfully,” Iris Capital chief executive Sam Arnaout said.

“QT will deliver a result that benefits the heritage precinct, our stakeholders and the community.”

Colliers International was responsible for securing the management agreement for Newcastle’s QT hotel.

Furthermore, stage one of Iris Capital’s $750 million redevelopment of the Hunter Street Mall commenced mid-2018 and continues to take shape.

The project will see the construction of 500 units across its 1.6-hectare east end development.

Iris acquired the CBD site last year from the listed GPT Group for $39 million.

Newcastle's accommodation sector strengthens

The city's other five-star hotel project is Crystalbrook Collection's plan for a 130-room establishment, to be known as the Kingsley, in the City Administration Centre "roundhouse" in King Street.

Crystalbrook, owned by Dubai-based billionaire Ghassan Aboud, will now set plans in motion to turn the brutalist 9-storey "roundhouse" building, which is not heritage-listed, into a 135 room hotel.

The new luxury hotel will include a lobby bar, cafe with outdoor terrace and a new roof top with restaurant, swimming pool and gymnasium.

Crystalbrook expects the Kingsley to be redeveloped and operating by November 2020.

Elsewhere, Doma Group has commenced work on its 140-room Little National Hotel at Honeysuckle.

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