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Merivale hospitality king Justin Hemmes’ ambitious plans for Melbourne pubs, a skyscraper in Sydney

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Justin Hemmes is going to take his biggest career risks by building a skyscraper and conquering a new city, while continuing his hard-hitting playboy lifestyle.

The billionaire pub baron plans to revamp the Ivy district by putting a tower on the site, developing his third entertainment district in the Sydney CBD and shaking up Melbourne’s pub scene.

Hemmes confidently recorded his ambitious plans in a profile with Good weekendalso citing friends and rivals who supported his chances of success.

Billionaire Justin Hemmes is going to take his biggest career risks by building a skyscraper and conquering a new city, while continuing his hard-hitting playboy lifestyle. (pictured with model friend Madeline Holtznagel)

After a breakup with the mother of his two children, Kate Fowler, Hemmes is now dating 26-year-old model Madeline Holtznagel, whom he affectionately refers to as

After a breakup with the mother of his two children, Kate Fowler, Hemmes is now dating 26-year-old model Madeline Holtznagel, whom he affectionately refers to as “Maddie mumu” (she is pictured on the island he partially owns, Haggerstone Island).

But the man himself was not candid about the $129 million class action against him.

The Federal Court case, led by Canberra law firm Adero, alleges that his Merivale group failed to pay thousands of employees appropriately between 2013 and 2019.

Hemmes would only say that only his employees are “the most important” element of the company and that they know that he is “passionate to take care of them.”

That’s despite federal court testimony that some staff members were expected to work 100-hour weeks.

Justin Hemmes is known to adore his 90-year-old mother, Merivale (pictured, with her husband John Hemmes) — after whom Hemmes' billion-dollar empire is named

Justin Hemmes is known to adore his 90-year-old mother, Merivale (pictured, with her husband John Hemmes) — after whom Hemmes’ billion-dollar empire is named

Young Justin Hemmes is pictured with his late father John, who became a successful businessman in the real estate market after emigrating from Europe.  He survived a terrible period as a prisoner of war from the Second World War

Young Justin Hemmes is pictured with his late father John, who became a successful businessman in the real estate market after emigrating from Europe. He survived a terrible period as a prisoner of war from the Second World War

After a split with the mother of his two children, Kate Fowler (pictured), Hemmes is now dating model Madeline Holtznagel, whom he affectionately calls 'Maddie mumu'.

After a split with the mother of his two children, Kate Fowler (pictured), Hemmes is now dating model Madeline Holtznagel, whom he affectionately calls ‘Maddie mumu’.

Adero said he expects a settlement in the case in June.

One area where Hemmes freely admits “guilt” is in enjoying his famously feisty lifestyle.

After a split with the mother of his two children, Kate Fowler, Hemmes is now dating model Madeline Holtznagel, whom he affectionately calls ‘Maddie mumu’.

At 26, she is 23 years younger than Hemmes, who will be 50 in August.

In mid-May, he shared a video of Ms. Holtznagel on his back kitesurfing on vacation in New Caledonia, captioning Snoop Dogg’s text “when the pimp in the crib drop it like it like it.”

Hemmes plans to revamp the Ivy district by putting a tower on the site, developing its third entertainment district in the Sydney CBD and shaking up Melbourne's pub scene

Hemmes plans to revamp the Ivy district by putting a tower on the site, developing its third entertainment district in the Sydney CBD and shaking up Melbourne’s pub scene

Hemmes to build a new bustling Merivale zone around the Hotel CBD on Sydney's King Street

Hemmes to build a new bustling Merivale zone around the Hotel CBD on Sydney’s King Street

Over the past year, Hemmes has also made serious strides in the Melbourne pub scene.  Pictured is the Lorne Hotel on the Great Ocean Road, which Hemmes bought for $38 million

Over the past year, Hemmes has also made serious strides in the Melbourne pub scene. Pictured is the Lorne Hotel on the Great Ocean Road, which Hemmes bought for $38 million

He also bought the 1853 seven-storey Tomasetti House, on Flinders Lane, in 2021 for $43 million

He also bought the 1853 seven-storey Tomasetti House, on Flinders Lane, in 2021 for $43 million

Ms Holtznagel also shared photos of the kitesurfing adventure and of herself in a skimpy bikini on Haggerstone Island, in far north Queensland, partly owned by Hemmes.

On the same trip, she and fellow model Yvette La went jet skiing.

When asked if he would ever marry, Hemmes claimed that his relationship with Mrs. Fowler fit his definition of marriage. He also questioned the definition of the word ‘playboy’.

†[Is it] someone having a lot of fun? Maybe I’m guilty of that, but I get much more pleasure from working, building and creating than from a life of leisure.’

Hemmes is known as a workaholic, often working until 3am, stopping in the middle of his own family appointments at Merivale locations to rush and do maintenance such as clearing gutters.

He is known to adore his 90-year-old mother, Merivale, after whom Hemmes’ billion-dollar empire is named.

She was a fashion designer whose clothes were worn by such Hollywood icons as 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 loving mother who always has our back.”

His father, John, became a successful businessman in the Australian real estate market after emigrating from Europe. He survived a terrible period as a prisoner of war from World War II.

He died in 2015.

'This was never going to end well': Last week Hemmes shared a series of photos capturing the incident where he broke his ankle on his Instagram page

‘This was never going to end well’: Last week Hemmes shared a series of photos capturing the incident where he broke his ankle on his Instagram page

Getting better!  Hemmes walked on crutches during a trip with girlfriend Madeline Holtznagel after the accident

Getting better! Hemmes walked on crutches during a trip with girlfriend Madeline Holtznagel after the accident

Hemmes rides an electric bicycle to work most days and prefers to leave his ‘incredible’ car collection untouched.

Hemmes owns at least nine muscle cars from the 60s and 70s, including Mustangs, Corvettes, Cobras plus a Humvee painted in camouflage colors.

He owns, among other things, a private jet, a seaplane and an interest in the far north of Queensland, a holiday island.

Besides putting in huge hours and collecting classic cars, Hemmes enjoys diving, kite surfing, motor boats and motor sports.

In May, he flew in his private jet to take out in a Porsche some of the high-speed circuits of Bathurst’s famous Mount Panorama.

He has competed in a few races, did well at times, but also had several accidents, going off track and even flipping.

He also crashed a $290,000 Scarab speedboat in Sydney Harbour, injuring friends.

Last year he broke his left ankle while kitesurfing.

“If you don’t have accidents, you’re not driving fast enough,” Hemmes said.

Hemmes’ new plans for the Ivy site are vague, but include a multi-purpose tower that will ‘blur the lines’ between public spaces, works and parties.

He describes the project as the ‘biggest challenge’ of his career and a ‘game changer’ for Merivale.

One estimate puts the construction cost for the Ivy renovation at $300 million.

As Hemmes gambles to spend money as he sends his iconic Ivy district into the air, he is poised to build a new bustling Merivale zone around the Hotel CBD on Sydney’s King Street.

His plans include glamorous properties at 50 King Street, 104 Clarence Street, and 71 and 73 York Streets to become signature Merivale centerpieces.

One of his biggest rivals, fellow tax collector Stu Laundy, predicts that Hemmes will succeed, partly because he is seen as ‘too big to fail’.

Over the past year, Hemmes has also embarked on serious steps in Melbourne, purchasing the 1853 seven-storey Tomasetti House, on Flinders Lane, in 2021 for $43 million and the Lorne Hotel on the Great Ocean Road for $38 million. .

Pub broker Andrew Jolliffe, director of HTL Property, predicts Hemmes will succeed in Melbourne – and the man himself agreed.

Hemmes claimed he could look at any hotel and estimate how much to spend on it and how much it would bring in, and that he would be “within 10 percent” accurate.

“I see everything,” he claimed.

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