Jerry Schwartz purchases Sydney Sofitel for $368, plans to add heliport

Cosmetic surgeon and hotelier Jerry Schwartz is purchasing the Sydney Darling Harbour Sofitel hotel from developer Lend Lease for approximately $368 million.

The 616-room property, which has yet to be built, was developed by Lend Lease and will be operated by Accor, according to the Property Observer. The 35-floor hotel forms part of the $2.5-billion international convention, exhibition and entertainment precinct Lend Lease is developing for Sydney's Darling Harbour. The deal was brokered by Michael Simpson of Savills.

To finance the property, Schwartz is selling some of his other real estate. He already sold his Deepwater Plaza shopping center for $98 million, and is looking to part ways with his Holiday Inn at Sydney's Mascot Airport hotel.

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According to Business Traveller, the Sofitel property will open in 2017, though the attached Sydney International Convention Centre will open one year earlier. The convention center will have 116,000 square feet of exhibition space, the largest in Australia. 

"Foreign capital, higher disposable incomes and independent Chinese travellers are fuelling the growth, and in recent months, Australia has seen strong demand from offshore investors for five-star hotel assets," Simon McGrath, Accor's Pacific COO told Business Traveller. "Financial institutions from leading economies such as Abu Dhabi, Korea and Singapore have been acquiring hotels in Sydney, driven by the huge potential in the Australian luxury market."

Schwartz expressed interest in erecting a heliport atop the hotel, with the goal of transporting "high tier" guests to and from the Sydney Airport while also leaving it open to public use. “Such helipads are available in cities like New York and London, and it will significantly benefit Sydney’s business and convention profile,” Schwartz told The Australian.

This move could create potential friction with the local community, as the addition of a helipad means more external lighting to the hotel, and the possibility of noise concerns from helicopter traffic.

The Schwartz Family Company owns 3000 hotel rooms in Australia, including the Mercure Sydney and the Ibis King Street Wharf.