Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Commercial Hotel bought by local resident

Benalla's Commercial Hotel has been purchased by local property developer Willie Van Wersch.

MONIQUE FREER June 25, 2014 3:30am

The Commercial Hotel, Benalla.

Benalla’s Commercial Hotel will remain a local icon after it was purchased by Benalla resident Willie Van Wersch this month.

The property developer said he planned to revamp the hotel and retain it as a hospitality business.

‘‘I had a look and saw it had massive potential,’’ Mr Van Wersch said.

‘‘We’re doing a great big demolition out the back and a massive extension out the back and we’re going to be doing a lot of work — and it’ll be very different when it reopens.’’

The popular venue closed in March after being in receivership since February 2013.

CRE Brokers co-director Hugh Roberts said the sale was finalised on June 13, after two parties pursued the purchase.

Neither Mr Roberts nor Mr Van Wersch would disclose the sale price.

‘‘It was a fair price in the current market, but two different parties were pretty much bidding for it at the same price,’’ Mr Roberts said.

The asking price was $750000.

The property was passed in at auction at $600000 without a single bid on May 21 and negotiations with several interested parties continued in the weeks following.

Mr Van Wersch said his interest in the purchase increased after the auction.

‘‘This is a project that I don’t want to keep secret because in the long run I’ll need staff,’’ he said.

‘‘I bought it with the intent to revamp it and do some extensions, taking the lake and the view into consideration.’’

Mr Roberts said the hotel was sold with plans and permits approved to build a five-storey mixed use development that would expire in August.

However, Mr Van Wersch said he did not intend to use the permits, instead focusing on restoring the hotel to its full potential.

Mr Roberts said the settlement was likely to be 120 days.

Mr Van Wersch said no clear timeframe for the work had been established yet, however he hoped to reopen the business as soon as possible.

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