Baron of the Bay: How billionaire publican Justin Hemmes will transform Byron’s nightlife after purchasing a massive block of land for a $50million ‘mega venue’
Justin Hemmes is renowned for transforming Sydney’s pub culture, owning over 80 bars and restaurants in New South Wales.
Now, the Merivale boss is making his first moves in Byron Bay, finalising a $50million deal to take over the Mercato Precinct and adjoining development site.
The billionaire publican is said to be planning a $20million redevelopment of the Mercato to create a ‘mega venue’ similar to his Ivy and Coogee Pavilion venues in Sydney.
Baron of the Bay: Merivale founder Justin Hemmes (pictured) is renowned for transforming Sydney’s nightlife. Now, he’s making a move into Byron Bay
The Mercato precinct already offers visitors a dining and entertainment experience, but Justin could be looking to start from scratch on the 1.1 hectare combined site.
The vacant land spans 4,128sqm and has a flexible B2 Local Centre zoning, allowing for a wide range of mixed-use development including retail, residential and hotels.
His new holding is located directly opposite rival pub The Northern – one of just three major pubs operating in Byron Bay.
New buy: The billionaire publican is finalising a $50million deal to take over the Mercato Precinct and adjoining 4,128sqm development site
The Byron Pav? Justin is said to be planning a $20million redevelopment of the Mercato to create a ‘mega venue’ similar to his Ivy and Coogee Pavilion venues in Sydney
The Byron Bay property market has become a hotspot for investors during the pandemic, as they clamour to own a slice of Australia’s hottest travel destination.
It’s clear the Merivale Group are determined to expand out of Sydney – all of their recent purchases have been outside the Harbour city.
In March however, neither Justin nor his pub-baron-rival Stu Laundy could offer enough money to secure the Bangalow Hotel, which is 14km inland from Byron Bay.
Makeover: The Jonson Street land has a flexible B2 Local Centre zoning, allowing for a wide range of mixed-use development including retail, residential and hotels
Pictured: The location of Hemmes’ new Byron Bay establishment
The rivals became locked in a bidding war for the 60-year-old pub, which is owned by NRL star Tom Mooney and wife Cathryn.
The top bid reached a staggering $50million.
In 2015, Justin turned the Coogee Pavilion into one of the Eastern Suburbs’ most popular nightlife destinations.
He changed the name from Beach Palace and splurged $12million into refurbishments that included an outdoor area.
Developments continued in January last year, with fine-dining restaurant Mimi’s opening on the venue’s second floor.
Doing it again! Back in 2015, Hemmes transformed Coogee Pavilion venue into one of the Eastern Suburbs most popular hotspots. Pictured: September 2013
Makeover: He changed the venue’s name from Beach Palace to Coogee Pavilion and splurged $12million into refurbishments which included an outdoor area. Pictured: December 2020