Channel Nine finally confirms Gatwick Hotel purchase

admin | 苏州桑拿
13 Mar 2019

Gatwick Hotel in St Kilda is forced to close down by the government. 6 March 2017. The Age News. Photo: Eddie Jim.Ex resident Nikki Dimovski.Channel Nine has finally confirmed it has bought St Kilda’s notorious Gatwick Hotel for an upcoming season of The Block after several months of rumours and intense speculation.
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Speaking exclusively with Fairfax Media, The Block’s executive producer Julian Cress promised the hit television show would not start production until every single one of the Gatwick’s residents had found new accommodation.

He also said The Block would assist homelessness charities in the wake of the sale, either through cash donations or renovations. Around 30 people living at the Gatwick still need to find alternative accommodation, with owners Yvette Kelly and Rose Banks planning to rehouse a handful of long term residents themselves.

Fairfax Media has been told the purchase was made official on Monday, with the final price in the vicinity of $15 million.

The Gatwick – which has a history of bashings, overdoses and even murder inside its walls – was first advertised for sale in December. Its closure was announced earlier this month, bringing to an end months of uncertainty for people who often turn to the Gatwick as a last resort.

Mr Cress said the Nine Network wasn’t prepared to purchase the building until it was certain its residents could find a new home.

“Everybody who’s been there will get an offer and opportunity to move into better accommodation than they’re used to,” he said.

“I’ve spent a bit of time inside the Gatwick. I’ve met all the residents a couple of months ago. Anybody who’s seen inside there would agree with the [housing] minister Martin Foley, who said that it’s clear the Gatwick is an inappropriate place for people in the first place.”

However, the executive producer did admit he had been scoping out the site for some time. A “couple of years”, in fact.

“The Gatwick is a beautiful building,” he said. “It’s got a lot of character. Unfortunately, it has fallen into disrepair. Internally, it’s really poor – but I think we can do a lot with that. It’s a building that feels like it deserves a new lease on life and like we can do something really special with it.”

Mr Cress swatted aside suggestions The Block – which is currently working on thirteenth season – purchased the Gatwick in order to grab headlines over such a contentious property. Instead, he said the building’s location was the major drawcard.

He also confirmed the Gatwick’s historic facade will remain, but declined to reveal anything more about Channel 9’s plans for the site.

“While there are concerns by various traders and residents at that part of Fitzroy Street, I think that everybody who lives there knows they live in one of the most beautiful parts of Melbourne,” he said. “It’s right by the beach, it’s an outstanding place to live.”

Mr Cress said it was unusual for him to be talking about a future series of The Block given the show’s format revolves around keeping the location a surprise for the contestants. However, concerns about the Gatwick’s closure putting further pressure on Melbourne’s homelessness crisis prompted him to break his silence.

“What we do internally or create as a challenge for the contestants when they arrive [will surprise them],” he said. “I acknowledge there’s a lot of public interest in this.”

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