HOTEL magnate Jerry Schwartz has bid $3.33 million for Newcastle’s dilapidated post office with plans to turn it into a conference and function space with restaurant and bar.
The Sydney-based cosmetic surgeon has thrown his hat into the ring for a second time for the prized site – with exactly the same offer – because he wants to use it to add value to the operations of his two city hotels, Novotel on the Beach and Crowne Plaza Newcastle.
Dr Schwartz bid $3.33 million when the post office was put to auction in 2010 by then owner, Sydney-based developer Sean Ngu, with the sale also including multiple poker machine licences.
It was passed in and later bought by the NSW government for $4.6 million before the Awabakal Land Council made a claim on the site and won in the NSW Land and Environment Court in 2014.
The Awabakal Land Council listed the post office for sale through Colliers International late last year and the expression of interest phase closed in November.
Dr Schwartz said he had put in a bid for the historic site for the site because it complimented his current Newcastle property portfolio and because of his confidence in Newcastle.
“Despite the fact the building is more dilapidated and does not include the poker machine licences, I am offering the same,” he said.
“I am reinvigorating my interest to utilise [the post office] with my two hotels as a conference and exhibition space with a food and beverage offering. It would be lovely to restore it because it’s a historical and beautiful part of Newcastle.”
Colliers International national director Adam Leacy, who is working with the Awabakal Land Council on the sale, confirmed Dr Schwartz had made an offer but would not comment on the financial aspects.
Mr Leacy said 11 proposals had been submitted but the selection process may take up to two months.
“Part of the process of who will be the successful proponent is the Council has some initiatives in line with its cultural objectives that each proponent has to consider in the development going forward,” he said.
“We have sent those initiatives to the prospective purchasers and we’ll wait for them to report back to us; from there we will shortlist the proponents and then move forward to a final decision.”
Mr Leacy said the post office site had attracted national and local interest, with proposals ranging from hospitality and event use to educational facilities.
Awabakal Land Council chief executive Rob Russell said the organisation was “keen on getting to a position where the new buyer and the land council mutually benefit from the agreement we enter into.”