By Triana O'Keefe, editor Australian Hotelier
Ipswich City Properties (ICP) has acquired Murphy's Town Pub in a settlement that makes the council the unexpected owner of a freehold hotel and liquor license.
Owners of Murphy's had sued owners of the Ipswich City Square, now the council-owned ICP, for more than a million dollars for undermining the foundations of the building during the Kern Corporation's construction of the centre 27 years ago.
In an out of court settlement, the council agreed to pay $400,000 for the pub to avoid an expensive court hearing.
"It is probably the best buy for a provincial city hotel in Queensland," ICP chairman Paul Tully told Hospitality Direct.
"If we lost the court case it could have cost the ratepayers over a million dollars.
"It was quite unusual. We weren't expecting a month ago that by being sued by a pub that we would end up owning it,” Cr Tully said.
The council-owned company will operate the pub until redevelopment plans for the city centre progress.
Cr Tully said the facade of the building would remain but options for the pub's future were yet to be decided.
"The facade is heritage listed. The plan is to continue to operate the hotel and to integrate that and see what options there are even for redevelopment," he said.
"One option would be retention of it. There is no commitment at this stage that it will be a pub in five years’ time but it could be an excellent entertainment facility."
Mayor Paul Pisasale said the small price paid for the hotel and liquor licence would assist in attracting expression of interest in the future redevelopment of the shopping centre.
"This is not simply about council buying the hotel. It is about taking control of the future of our city centre for the benefit of future generations," Cr Pisasale said.
"The city is the ultimate winner out of this deal.
"It adjoins the existing shopping centre property and will provide the company with another strategic parcel of land to add to its existing holdings."