Justin Hemmes buys first venue in Byron Bay for $13.5 millionThe Byron Bay property bought by Merivale.

Justin Hemmes buys first venue in Byron Bay

Sydney hotelier Justin Hemmes has expanded into Byron Bay, with his Merivale Group buying a site in the centre of town for $13.5 million.

The property, which was previously home to Cheeky Monkey’s bar and an adjoining massage spa, will reopen as a restaurant and bar later this year, according to a statement from Merivale.

This follows a spate of purchases by the group in recent months, including its first pub in Victoria, the Lorne Hotel, for $38 million, Tomasetti House in Melbourne for $40 million and Norton’s Irish Pub in Leichhardt, in Sydney, for about $24 million.

The property includes the former restaurant and bar, and a Thai massage spa next door. Photo: Google Maps

Merivale paid $13.5 million for the property, according to industry sources.

Byron Bay is one of the hottest property markets in the country at the moment, with house prices soaring almost 40 per cent in 2020 to be on par with those in Sydney, according to Domain Group figures, and developers and investors clamouring for pubs and other hospitality venues.

“I’ve been going to Byron since I was 10 years old, so it has always been a place close to my heart,” Mr Hemmes said.

“I can’t wait to open our first venue on the north coast and spend more time in the area. There’s simply no place like it.”

The 827-square-metre site, opposite the new Mercato shopping centre on Jonson Street, was previously owned by Red Rock Leisure and has approvals to trade until 2am. Merivale said it would soon announce details about its plans for the site.

JLL’s John Musca negotiated the sale.

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