Bill’s Eureka Moment

THE Eureka Hotel’s days as a nightclub are over after buyers revealed a proposal to subdivide the venue in Geelong’s trendy Lt Malop St cafe strip.

Prominent Geelong property investor and developer Bill Votsaris yesterday said he was part of a local consortium that bought the pub from flamboyant former mayor and business identity Darryn Lyons.

Real estate agent Simon Jarman, from Geelong West agency Darcy Jarman, brokered the deal, which Mr Jarman said was close to the $3.6 million asking price.

Mr Votsaris said the group shared a vision and thought that one less nightclub in the CBD was a good idea.

They were evaluating how best to reactivate the building, he said.

“It certainly won’t be a single venue.  Like across the road, in a similar footprint building there are half a dozen businesses in there.

“But we definitely have discounted the prospect of the Eureka coming back as a single venue.  It’s just too big.”

Mr Votsaris said the size of the pub – it’s licensed for 1000 people to 5am – is one of the reasons the venue ultimately closed.

He said the group had consulted Gartland Property director Michael De Stefano and architects about how they could alter the building.

“We want to move pretty fast and certainly see this site transformed this year.”

The Eureka Hotel is one of the largest properties on the Lt Malop St strip between Moorabool and Gheringhap streets, with a combined floorspace of 1537sq m.

Contractors recently completed a streetscape upgrade of the area, dubbed the ‘west end’, as part of the Revitalising Central Geelong project. Mr Votsaris said the council still needed to address vehicle access and garbage storage and collection to the pedestrian-friendly strip, which includes laneways like Shorts Place, Dennys Place and McLarty Place.

The enclave was in demand for business operators, he said.

“We have a lot of inquiries from people that have successful businesses outside of central Geelong that want to come in to Geelong.  They’ve already done their homework and are selecting that little strip as the target,” he said.

“We’re looking to similar things to complement the rest of the businesses in the street – quality operators offering a good product and good service.

“Bringing people back into the CBD is a key driver for whatever we do in the space.”

Mr Votsaris said six new businesses were set to open in the strip this year, excluding the Eureka site.

“The last one that’s opened recently is the Greek restaurant (Mavs) and that’s activated that space and we’ve got a pizza and pasta place being fitted out next to the Blackman’s Brewery Bar, so there is new businesses now.”