Wollongong CBD Motel Sold and Set for Revival

by Matt Davidson 21st of March, 2023
Wollongong CBD Motel Sold and Set for Revival
Wollongong CBD motel sold and set for revival

The City Beach Motel in Wollongong has been sold by specialist brokers, Tourism Property - at an undisclosed price.

The motel has stood for decades on the corner of Harbour Street and Crown Street – between the city and the sea. The City Beach precinct on the eastern edge of the Wollongong CBD has emerged into an entertainment hub, mixed with an ever-increasing list of premium residential apartment buildings.

The property is the last of the privately owned tourism zoned land in Wollongong CBD, according to Tourism Property director Matt Davidson. “We saw strong interest in the motel once we commenced some discreet advertising. We’re so pleased to see the motel sold to a local family and even more pleased to announce an immediate renovation of the motel to secure it’s future. We work right across the state selling motels and resorts, but being based in Wollongong, it’s always exciting to be able to put together a deal like this in our home town”.

Commenting on the sale, new owner Nichole Karanfilovski said As soon as we learned the motel was on the market, we dropped everything and moved quickly to secure the property, even walking away from another deal elsewhere in NSW. It’s just an iconic motel and an amazing location. We’ve looked at quite a few motels in Wollongong over recent years, but they all get snapped up by residential
developers and will be knocked down. This motel has a Tourism zoning, so it needs to stay as a motel – and that’s exactly what we’ve been chasing”.

Asked if a new hotel development would be on the cards, Ms Karanfilovski says We did some serious thinking on that, as Wollongong is so short of quality hotel rooms.

For us, this a passion project and we’ve decided to go “all in” on a full renovation. The motel is such a throwback to tourism of the 1970’s and 80’s and we thought it would be a terrible shame to be bulldozing it. The 16 suites are an excellent size, at around 40 square metres each. Our vision for the renovation is to deliver a “Palm Springs” style retreat, adding a pool and ideally a licensed venue downstairs.

Matt Davidson added "There’s a very strong trend for renovating older motels currently. We’ve been promoting the idea for close to 10 years now, as the difficulty of developing new hotels in regional cities is really significant. Quite simply, it’s far more cost effective to “buy
and renovate”, than it is to build a new hotel. There’s examples right across the country, particularly in coastal locations, where the revival is in full swing. We can’t wait to see what the new owners do here in Wollongong.

He points to recent examples of properties his agency has sold, where the incoming owner has invested heavily in repositioning old motels into glamorous boutique hotels.

“The Kyah”, (formerly Redleaf Resort) in the Blue Mountains has been absolutely transformed and “The Lodge” (previously Jamberoo Valley Lodge) is now unrecognizable. Both have been hugely successful.

The new owners of the City Beach Motel say they can’t wait to collect the keys and get started on bringing a re-imagined “Surfside 22” back to life as a quirky boutique motel. Ms Karanfilovski adds "Hospitality is my passion and I’ve been out of the game for 15 years raising my family, but this project has got us all very excited. The original name Surfside 22 will be revived and the renovated motel will become a one-of-a-kind place to stay in Wollongong.

The generation that grew up holidaying in beachside motels in the 70’s and 80’s will once again be able to enjoy the simple things – and now even take their own kids and grandkids along. Once renovated, we’ll be offering things like free use of boogie boards and bikes and we’ll be doing picnic hampers, beach towels and umbrellas”.

About the author

Matt Davidson

Matt started his hospitality career in Dunk Islandresort in tropical North Queensland in 1996 and has genuinely done it all in the industry since ...

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