Justin Hemmes has opened up on his ambitious new plans to build a skyscraper in Sydney’s CBD and expand his pub empire interstate.
The billionaire hotel baron plans to revamp his Ivy precinct by putting a tower on the site, develop his third entertainment zone in the Sydney CBD and shake up Melbourne‘s pub scene.
Hemmes confidently laid out his ambitious plans in a profile with Good Weekend, which also quoted friends and rivals backing his chances of success.
Billionaire Justin Hemmes is set to take his biggest career risks by building a skyscraper and taking on a new city while continuing his hard-driving playboy lifestyle. (pictured with model girlfriend Madeline Holtznagel)
Having split with the mother of his two children, Kate Fowler, Hemmes now dates 26-year-old model Madeline Holtznagel, whom he affectionately calls ‘Maddie mumu’ (she is pictured posing on the island he part owns, Haggerstone Island)
Having split with the mother of his two children, Kate Fowler (pictured), Hemmes now dates model Madeline Holtznagel, whom he affectionately calls ‘Maddie mumu’
Hemmes also opened up about his famously racy lifestyle which often sees him labelled a ‘playboy’.
‘[Is it] someone who has a lot of fun?’ Hemmes asked.
‘Maybe I’m guilty of that, but I get much more pleasure out of working, building and creating rather than living a life of leisure.’
Hemmes’ new plans for the Ivy site are vague but include a multi-use skyscraper that ‘blurs the lines’ between public spaces, work and partying.
He described the project as the ‘biggest challenge’ of his career and a ‘game changer’ for Merivale.
One estimate puts construction costs for the Ivy revamp at $300million.
While Hemmes gambles on spending up as he sends his iconic Ivy precinct skywards, he is set to build another buzzing Merivale zone around the Hotel CBD on King Street in Sydney.
His plans include glamming up properties at 50 King Street, 104 Clarence Street and 71 and 73 York Street to become signature Merivale showpieces.
One of his biggest rivals, fellow publican Stu Laundy, predicts Hemmes will succeed partly because he’s seen as ‘too big to fail’.
In the past year Hemmes has also begun serious moves on Melbourne, buying the seven-storey 1853 Tomasetti House, on Flinders Lane, in 2021 for $43million and the Lorne Hotel on the Great Ocean Road for $38million.
Young Justin Hemmes is pictured with his late father John, who became a successful businessman in the property market after emigrating from Europe. He survived a horrific spell as a World War II prisoner-of-war
Justin Hemmes is known to adore his 90-year-old mother, Merivale (pictured, with her husband John Hemmes) – who Hemmes’ billion-dollar empire is named after
Pub broker, Andrew Jolliffe, managing director of HTL Property, predicts Hemmes will succeed in Melbourne – and the man himself agreed.
Asked whether he can replicate his Sydney success in the Victorian capital, Hemmes responded that he could look at any hotel and estimate how much needed to be spent on it and how much it would make and be accurate ‘within 10 per cent’.
‘I see everything,’ he said.
Having split with the mother of his two children, Kate Fowler, Hemmes now dates model Madeline Holtznagel, whom he affectionately calls ‘Maddie mumu’.
At 26 years old she is 23 years younger than Hemmes, who turns 50 this August.
In mid-May he shared a video of Ms Holtznagel on his back while kite-surfing on holiday in New Caledonia, captioned with Snoop Dogg lyrics ‘when the pimp’s in the crib drop it like its hot’.
Hemmes plans to revamp the Ivy precinct by putting a tower on the site, develop his third entertainment zone in the Sydney CBD and shake up Melbourne’s pub scene
Hemmes is set to build another buzzing Merivale zone around the Hotel CBD on King Street in Sydney
In the past year Hemmes has also begun serious moves on the Melbourne pub scene. Pictured is the Lorne Hotel on the Great Ocean Road which Hemmes bought for $38million
He also bought the seven-storey 1853 Tomasetti House, on Flinders Lane, in 2021 for $43million
Ms Holtznagel also shared photos of the kitesurfing adventure and of herself in a skimpy bikini on Haggerstone Island, in far north Queensland, which Hemmes part owns.
On the same trip she and fellow model Yvette La went jet skiing.
When asked if he’d ever get married, Hemmes said his relationship with Ms Fowler fit his definition of a marriage.
Hemmes is famously a workaholic, often working until 3am and stopping in the middle of his own family engagements in Merivale venues to rush off and do maintenance, such as clearing gutters.
He is known to adore his 90-year-old mother, Merivale – who Hemmes’ billion-dollar empire is named after.
She was a fashion designer whose clothes were believed to have been worn by Hollywood icons including Marlene Dietrich and Liza Minnelli and rock god Mick Jagger.
On her 90th birthday he posted a heartfelt public tribute, ‘To the coolest, most stylish, elegant, sophisticated, intelligent and caring mother… a loving doting mum who always has our backs.’
His father, John, became a successful businessman in the Australian property market after emigrating from Europe. He survived a horrific spell as a World War II prisoner-of-war.
He died in 2015.
‘This was never going to end well’: Last week, Hemmes shared a series of photographs capturing the incident in which he broke his ankle to his Instagram page
On the mend! Hemmes walked on crutches during an outing with girlfriend Madeline Holtznagel after the accident
Hemmes rides an electric bike to work most days, preferring to leave his ‘incredible’ car collection untouched.
He also owns at least nine 1960s and ’70s-era muscle cars including Mustangs, Corvettes, Cobras plus a camouflage-painted Humvee.
Among other toys he owns a private jet, a sea plane and a stake in the far north Queensland holiday island.
Aside from working huge hours and collecting classic cars, Hemmes loves scuba diving, kitesurfing, power boats and motorsports.
In May he flew in his private jet to knock out a few high speed circuits of Bathurst’s famous Mount Panorama in a Porsche.
He’s entered a few races, done well at times but also had several accidents, spinning off the track and even flipping.
He’s also crashed a $290,000 Scarab speedboat on Sydney Harbour, injuring friends.
Last year he broke his left ankle kite-surfing.
‘If you’re not having accidents, you’re not driving hard enough,’ Hemmes said.