The owners of the Guildford Hotel have scored a major coup towards restoring the heritage-listed building, signing a lease agreement with national hotel operator The Publican Group.
Guildford Hotel co-owner Luke Martino told Business News the agreement was the cornerstone to allow the redevelopment to proceed.
The Publican Group owns 18 venues in Melbourne and five in Perth, including The Aviary, Wolf Lane, The George, The Byrneleigh and Public House.
“This is a major, major milestone and I think people should be delighted in the community that we have a serious and very experienced operator of the pub,” Mr Martino said.
“It really vindicates the belief that we have had from the start, we haven’t run away and we have been pressing with this development all the way through.
“It’s been a tough economic market and against that adversity we’ve stuck with what we’ve said we were going to do.”
“We will ensure the refurbishments reflect the beautiful architecture of the heritage hotel,” he said.
Mr Martino also said he hoped the agreement would be the catalyst to getting the retail component of the redevelopment leased.
The redevelopment proposal includes a small boutique retail complex on the southern portion of the site, with Mr Martino expressing a preference for a fresh food market that would showcase Swan Valley produce.
“A pharmacy-type operation or a fresh food provision type of operator, whether it’s coffee, food or groceries, would fit well in that corner,” he said.
“It’s a very good strategic location so I think it’s a good opportunity for people who are keen to reinvigorate the area to be associated with the hotel.
“We’re hoping we’ll get a lot of interest.”
However, Mr Martino would not put a timeline on when construction would start, with a number of hurdles remaining for the development to proceed.
The agreement remains subject to final funding approval, as well as satisfying other statutory conditions prior to a building licence being issued and construction commencing.
“It’s important that everyone does understand that this doesn’t mean we are going to start building it next week, we do need to go through the next stage of the process, which is the extension of the development application, the completion of leasing and making sure all our funding is in place,” Mr Martino said.
“That will take a number of months, I would have thought.”
The Guildford Hotel has been sitting in a decrepit state since it was gutted by fire in 2008.
Approval for the redevelopment proposal was initially issued in November 2012, but Mr Martino said it was set to expire by the end of this month.
The plan has been resubmitted to the City of Swan to consider extending the approval.
“Because of the deliberations with our tenant, it’s dragged on and we’ve gotten close to the expiry date,” Mr Martino said.
“But we will be doing our utmost to progress matters with the council, with our tenant and with the prospective tenants that will be very interested in the Publican Group being the operator of the hotel.”
City of Swan Mayor Charlie Zannino said while it was positive to see a step forward in terms of the hotel's redevelopment, the council was yet to see the updated proposal in detail.
"The chief executive, Mike Foley, and I are meeting with the owners to find out more about the proposal as we are extremely keen to see the works begin," Mr Zannino said.
"The Guildford Hotel is a significant part of the heritage of this area.
"Council has granted the owners considerable concessions in hope the hotel could be restored as soon as possible."
Concessions include waiving the requirement for a cash-in-lieu contribution for a shortfall of parking bays, equating to about $3 million, Mr Zannino said.
The City of Swan council will consider the extension to the development approval at its July meeting.
The hotel is managed by property group BPG Australia, whose managing director, John Braddock, said discussions with prospective tenants could ramp up.
"A condition of the development approval was to commence development on the old hotel before any other development of the remainder of the site," he said.
"Therefore we now look forward to securing food and other retail tenancies for the remainder of the site and progressing with the redevelopment."