Investor snaps up second Grafton pub in six months
A WOOLGOOLGA businessman is about to settle on the purchase of his second hotel in Grafton in six months.
In September 2016 the Dosanjh Family Pty Ltd bought Grafton's Post Office Hotel and has just made a successful offer for Walkers Marina Hotel in South Grafton.
The settlement on the Walkers sale is expected on May 31.
Company director Harjap Dosanjh said the purchases were private investments to capitalise on the growth available in Grafton.
Mr Dosanjh, who is also involved in a multi-national partnership to develop huge blueberry ventures at Waterview and Glenugie, said the hotel purchases were not linked to the blueberry farms.
"To be truthful, I have no plans for the hotels other than to continue with what they're doing now,” he said.
Walkers is operating as a hotel with accommodation, but the Post Office Hotel has been closed since 2015 when a fire shut down its hotel and accommodation operations.
Mr Dosanjh said investment in the hotels could cash in on the influx of workers on the infrastructure projects, including the highway upgrade and the second Grafton bridge.
But he said they would not be suited to accommodation for workers on blueberry farms.
"There are 10 to 15 rooms in a hotel, that's nowhere near enough for the numbers of pickers we would have coming,” he said.
"And you would not spend that amount of money accommodating that many blueberry pickers.”
Mr Dosanjh said Grafton was a hot place to invest and was aware of national and international interest in purchasing properties in Grafton.
"Investors can get returns of 6-7% on commercial property, which you can't get investing in the city,” he said.
"I know people in Sydney who are buying property and an Asian company has shown interest in investing here.”
The previous owners of Walkers, Margaret McKenna and her husband Steve Dobbs, said as far as they knew the hotel operation would continue as normal.
"Don't listen to rumours, the hotel, bar etcetera is not closing,” Ms McKenna said.
"We are told it will be business as usual.”
The couple have owned the hotel for more than nine years and have been trying to sell it since 2011.
"We're really proud of what we achieved at Walkers,” Ms McKenna said.
"We saved the building from decaying away into nothing.
"We have spent years restoring ceilings and walls, replacing skirting boards, picture rails, and other features that had been removed and sold.”
Ms McKenna said when they took over only about 20% of the ground floor was accessible to the public and the beautiful upstairs balcony overlooking the mighty Clarence was closed to the public.
"We are proud of what we have achieved and given back so that all can enjoy,” she said.
"It will be a sad day but I can assure you, it is always much more enjoyable on the other side of the bar.”