A Central Coast hotel made famous by the political scandal that would become known as Iguanagate is for sale.
Waterfront leasehold the Iguana Hotel, at 12 Dane Drive, Gosford, is being touted by agency Cushman Wakefield as the the “premier food and beverage venue for the entire Central Coast”.
But most people will likely remember it for the events that took place eight years ago.
In June 2008, an incident at the hotel restaurant involving involving former federal ALP MP Belinda Neal and her then-NSW minister husband John Della Bosca became a scandal that engulfed both federal and state politics and made national headlines.
The site occupies a prime waterfront position. Photo: Supplied
Details of the dinnertime dispute between Mr Della Bosca, Ms Neal and her staff and the staff and management of the venue, then known as Iguana Joe’s, remain unclear. But after weeks of news coverage, the names of Mr Della Bosca, Ms Neal and Iguana Joe’s would always be associated.
It’s irrelevant now, says listing agent Rob Parrott, but it makes for a good ice-breaker when introducing the property to people.
“It doesn’t put people off, just something to chat about and laugh about. It’s not relevant, it was a long time around,” Mr Parrott said.
Inside the Iguana Hotel. Photo: Supplied
What is causing trouble is the property’s crown land lease, which requires a new tenant to gain approval from Crown Land and has seen groups such as Sydney’s Merivale turn down the property.
“There are a lot of people who have show interest, but it’s complicated because it’s a crown land lease,” Mr Parrott said. “A lot of people aren’t sure how to make it work, they baulk at the thought of putting down a large amount of money for a lease.”
Ms O’Neil and Mr Della Bosca in 2008. Photo: Jacky Ghossein
But for the right operator, the venue had “unlimited potential”.
“As a food and beverage operator you could get $150,000 plus a week, nobody disputes that,” Mr Parrott said.
The property, to be offered as vacant possession, comes with a 20-year crown lease, late-night licensing and a gross floor area of around 1600 square metres.
A restaurant and conference facilitator has been operating out of the venue for the past eight months, and Mr Parrott said the business had expressed an interest in continuing to lease the premises from a new owner.
The Iguana Hotel was passed in at auction earlier this month and is still on the market.
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