10 May 2021

Canberra entrepreneur acquires Commercial Hotel in Yass

| Hannah Sparks
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Exterior of Commercial Hotel in Yass

The derelict Commercial Hotel on the main street of Yass has changed hands. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The major shareholder of Public Bar in the south Canberra suburb of Manuka and the founder of Canberra’s largest accounting firm, Walter Turnbull, has taken over the derelict Commercial Hotel on the main street of Yass.

Andrew Turnbull is also part of a Canberra-based syndicate that recently purchased five pubs in the NSW Central West for $75 million.

Investment Management Group now owns the Royal Hotel in Orange, the Dudley Hotel in Bathurst, the Castlereagh Hotel in Dubbo, the Federal Hotel in Wellington, and the Federal Hotel in Mudgee.

Mr Turnbull will renovate the Commercial Hotel, which has been neglected since 2005, with his brother-in-law Anthony Barrie.

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The pair has established a shelf company, Commercial Hotel Yass Pty Ltd, and has two years to finalise plans and purchase the property.

Sydney developer Michael Rastegorac has been removed from the project after working on hotel plans that included an apartment complex, shops and a restaurant since 2017. He declined to comment.

Commercial Hotel owner Warren Hall said Mr Rastegorac’s plans were taking too long and had never been lodged with Yass Valley Council.

Mr Turnbull grew up in Yass and was behind the 92 lot subdivision at Hatton Park. He is also in the process of subdividing land at Iceton Place.

Exterior of Commercial Hotel in Yass

Canberra entrepreneur Andrew Turnbull plans to redevelop the Commercial Hotel in Yass into a family-friendly pub similar to The Sir George in Jugiong. Photo: Jan Smith.

While researching potential pub investments in NSW, he saw the opportunity to buy the Commercial Hotel and create an establishment similar to The Sir George in Jugiong.

He hopes the redevelopment will attract people out of Canberra, with Canberrans already driving 40 minutes further west to drink, dine and stay at The Sir George.

The Commercial Hotel will become a family-friendly pub with strong food, beverage, entertainment and accommodation offerings that can double as a conference and wedding venue, said Mr Turnbull.

“It’s a large block so we’ve got the ability to create some good outdoor entertainment areas, but still make it cosy inside for the depths of winter,” he said.

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While the Commercial Hotel isn’t heritage listed, Mr Turnbull intends to retain its heritage features, such as the large verandah that hangs above the main street.

It will require a lot of work, with the building in ruin from vandals and thieves who routinely smash their way through what’s left of the building, but Mr Turnbull is confident he and Mr Barrie can get the job done.

“It’s going to be expensive but if we get it right, it will open up as a great venue for Yass and Canberra people to look at as a corporate and entertainment venue,” he said.

“I’m also hoping it will become a destination for people from Sydney who are willing to go a bit further than Bowral.”

The pair has begun working with an architect firm and Mr Turnbull said Yass Valley Council has been supportive of their preliminary discussions.

He said they will lodge plans with council as soon as possible.

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Was in the family originally. Great to see someone caring about it.
Now if we could just get rid of covid, we can visit it sometime

Larraine healy8:54 am 11 Jul 21

Will be great.
It’s such an eyesore now

PAUL BRENNAN1:45 pm 12 May 21

Mt Turnbull might like to buy THE LIBERTY. What a commercial combo that would make. He can call me on 0411 366 916. PAUL BRENNAN.

Trish Mcintyre5:35 pm 11 May 21

Great plans. Hope it all goes ahead. Yass and surrounding villages really need something like this upgrade.

Awesome! If this is true, fantastic!! Excuse the doubt and scepticism but we have been let down many times before. Yass is developing and this type of facility can only be a huge positive for the town and if the restoration remains sympathetic with the building (the facade at least) it’s win win for everybody.

Keith Campbell10:25 pm 10 May 21

Bravo ! The sooner the better

Really great news and many Yass residents will support the redevelopment of this significant building to bring life into the main area of this rural community.

JIll McGovern8:40 pm 10 May 21

Absolutely brilliant! Precisely what is needed. A vision with a respect for the history of the town. A winner both socially and commercially. Good luck!

Absolutely wonderful…congratulations Andrew.
We Yass residents will look forward to you bringing this to fruition.

Pauline Lovitt7:09 pm 10 May 21

Great. I just spent the weekend at Yass. It’s an interesting and historic town. It would be wonderful to see the hotel renovated and in use again. It’s a shame to see a building like this looking so unloved in the Main Street.

Gwen Warmington1:59 pm 10 May 21

Wonderful news. It has been so sad to see this building become derelict. I remember it as the place for visitors to stay before Motels were built! I attended many Club and Civic dinners at the Commercial in it’s heyday!

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