Two of Melbourne’s most famous gay venues, the Laird and the Peel, are up for sale and could be bought by overseas investors.

The Northside Group is selling four venues in Collingwood (the Laird, the Peel, the Gatehouse and Club 80) for a total of more than $10 million.

Leading Melbourne real estate broker Will Walton said he had received four inquiries from Europe and 10 from the US about the properties.

Walton said the marketing campaign for the venues started in the US in early October and had not yet kicked off in Australia. Despite the low local profile, five Victorian businesspeople had already expressed interest in the properties.

A report calling for expressions of interest was released by Walton’s agency Hocking Stuart this week.

According to the report, the Peel’s current lease was due to expire 30 June 2008 while the Laird’s lease expires on 30 June 2007.

The report also stated the Peel had a turnover of $1.7million and a rent of $340,860 while the Laird Hotel made $1.3million turnover and cost $163,800 in rent. Expressions of interest close on 17 December.

Walton said all four venues were running at a healthy profit.

You might well find that an entrepreneur or an investor may decide to buy the properties and continue to lease them to the current tenants and then renegotiate a longer extension of the lease, or they may well want to operate the businesses in the future but at this stage have the current tenants run them.

Lessee of the Laird, Ron Walker, said he had no problems continuing with the lease but was not interested in buying the venue for the $3 million price tag that has been bandied about.
The Peel’s lessee Tom McFeely has been advertising for potential partners, shareholders or people with some spare cash to contact him regarding a proposal to acquire the freehold property.

We’ve had quite a few inquiries, including some from Sydney. Mr McFeely said the release of the agent’s report would allow him to follow up inquiries.

I am keen to be actively involved in Northside’s future, he said.

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