Neil Rankin 'passionate' about restoring Australasia to former glory

Builder Neil Rankin has spoken about his upcoming purchase of the Hotel Australasia saying that as a local he is passionate about seeing the building returned to its former glory.

Neil Rankin

Neil Rankin

He is buying the building as an individual rather than through his business, Rankin Builders.

"It's worth saving and being a local I've got my heart behind it. I'm going to enjoy doing it up for the town. I'm passionate for Eden; I feel it will be an enjoyable project," Mr Rankin said.

He said the contract has a clause to restore the original facade inside two years, but he believes he can do it within a year or 18 months.

"There will be vehicle access one way from the street to the car park like it has been for the last 100 years," he added.

Mr Rankin already has plans for the interior with a rent free space on offer for the community radio station 2SEA for 10 years, something that was agreed with council. He also has been talking to a brewery.

"I've got a boutique brewery which is very interested in coming in one side of the building. I want to bring the pub back to what it was designed for, live music. I think it will go very well for the cruise industry," he said.

Asked about the heritage fittings and whether he would try to keep them, Mr Rankin said he would 100 per cent be keeping them.

"There needs to be a compliant ramp through the centre of the building and there may have to be some small sacrifices, but I intend having the pressed metal ceilings.

"There's no hidden conspiracy here. People will say 'what a deal Neil's got' but people don't understand what's needed to take this building to the next level," he said.

"There have been quotes of between $1.8-$2.4m to bring it up to standard and when you add that to the sale price it's not as good as everyone thinks."

He said that bringing the hotel up to complying standards for a public building was onerous with fire regulations, full disabled access, complete rewiring and complete re-plumbing.

"People don't understand there's a lot of work. It will be stripped back to a shell with just the heritage items left.

Mr Rankin said he had no plans for the upper floor at this stage. He said discussions about putting the library there hadn't worked out as there was a "cost blowout with the lift", which would have been necessary for disabled access.

"They will be pleasantly surprised when it's finished. They've got the right person."

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