WHEN a country pub is worth more as a block of offices than it is as a watering hole, it is clear that the drinking habits of the local market, and the liquor laws that control the venues, are forcing changes throughout the industry.
The Occidental Hotel, otherwise known as the Oxo, has been bought by the consortium that owns the Hotel Canobolas, and it has been closed immediately as a hotel by the group.
“It’s simply worth more as real estate than it is as a hotel,” said Phil Tudor who along with Mark Dalton and Arthur Laundy form the Canobolas Hotel Consortium.
“As it was the hotel was losing $3000 a week. It will never open as a hotel ever again.”
Mr Tudor said he was approached by the owner of the hotel John Phillips to purchase the struggling venue.
“There are nine hotels within a two block radius of the Occidental and, when they’re all open, that’s a lot of choice for the consumers,” he said. “It’s not just in Orange that this is happening. Country pubs are closing up everywhere. In Forbes they’ve gone from eight pubs down to four.”
The group is putting the building on the market and as it sits over four titles, the possibilities, Mr Tudor said, were endless.
“We’re not developing the sites at all, the site has four different titles, the motel will still trade as such, but the rest of it is easy to subdivide into different retail or office spaces,” he said.
Mr Tudor said the Occidental Hotel’s poker machine licences would not be moved to the Hotel Canobolas and would be sold independently.
The Occidental has had a rocky past and in November 2013 was named as one of top 20 most violent licensed venues in New South Wales.
Mr Tudor said the building was in the perfect place for redevelopment as it was in a growing part of town.
“This is a becoming a really smart area of town with two new pharmacies, the government offices and the building has good car parking credits that will make it ideal for redevelopment,” he said.