An ambitious proposal to revitalise Sydney beachside icon, the Coogee Bay Hotel, faces pushback from the local community, but its owner, C!NC’s Chris Cheung, remains philosophical.

The $111.7m redevelopment would see the eastern suburbs venue grow into a six-storey retail and accommodation hub with an eat street laneway.

The heritage-listed pub and beer garden would remain and would feature smaller, more premium spaces within the pub itself, according to Cheung, who says he’s planned to redevelop the site ever since he bought the venue, which came with a DA, 30 years ago.

In the current proposal, well-known music venue and nightclub Selina’s, a boutique hotel, and an apartment block would be replaced by a supermarket, 60 apartment buildings, a car park and an eat street precinct featuring eight new cafés and restaurants.

It’s Cheung’s second attempt to redevelop the venue. 12 years ago he sought a DA on a 9-storey redevelopment, a proposal that also faced local community opposition. Cheung says that he respects the democratic process but hopes this proposal will be different.

“I know all of the contention points, and we just have to go through the process, and hopefully reasoning and common sense will prevail.”

He’s not the only pub operator with redevelopment and diversification ambitions. Unlike other types of property, due to their large, corner and high street locations, pubs can offer their owners mixed-use or alternative development opportunities.

In recent examples, Iris Capital has, after years of negotiation, been given the green light to redevelop a 20,000 sqm site on Darlinghurst Road at Potts Point in Sydney – a site that includes the current Bourbon and the Empire hotels – to include a hotel and apartments.

In South Australia, The Matthews Group is seeking to have a 6,200 sqm site in Gilberton, which includes the heritage-listed Buckingham Arms Hotel, rezoned to allow mixed-use medium-density commercial and residential development. The group’s CEO Andrew Kemp said while no specific plans are in place just yet, Matthews is seeking a suitable planning outcome to enable it to identify the “highest and best use of the site going forward”.

Some local businesses are reportedly in favour of the Coogee Bay Hotel development, saying it’s time that section of Coogee Bay Road was reinvigorated, but its opponents – who include Labor MP for Coogee Marjorie O’Neill – say the six-story building would threaten the “low-scale, low-key look and feel of the Coogee village centre”.  

O’Neil, who has launched a Save Coogee Village petition, notes that The Department of Planning has previously said development of the site should be limited to 3 to 4 storeys along Coogee Bay Rd and Arden St and up to five storeys in the south-western part of the site.

In its DA application­, C!NC is seeking variations to FSR and height limits from 12 metres to 23 metres in some parts. Cheung says that the aim is to diversify the land mix.

“Our design takes into consideration both day and night and includes business and family use,” Cheung says.

“Coogee is a well-kept secret, and we pride ourselves on being part of the community, but it needs to keep moving forward, and we can be a part of that.”

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