The Shirley Hotel in Bethungra attracted worldwide coverage following the decision to giveaway the pub for practically $100, but the “overwhelming interest” has not been relayed in the number of applications put forward.
The historic building, built in 1886, gained traction when owners Robyn and Allan Cox put their idea to life on a Facebook post in mid-November.
Mrs Cox said many people have been in contact and have visited the property since news of this cheap giveaway first spread.
“Applications have been quite slow because of the festive period but we’re only one month in and we didn’t expect many applications by this point,” she said.
“We’re terrified because we’ve put a lot of energy and money into getting this up and we’re hoping the Australian public will respond.
“We’ve had a lot of conversation with people that this method will work and we want to show the government that this template can work with other buildings and companies, but we need to prove this.”
Mrs Cox said they have received calls from interested parties in the United States and London and emails from Malaysia and China, but it is an opportunity for Australians to preserve their heritage.
“It’s for Australians only and we hope that Australians appreciate this and show support to what has gained worldwide attention,” she said.
“We want this to be a success in order to save these old buildings from loans and getting boarded up.
“It’s not about our story anymore, it’s become a lot bigger and the conversation we started has become a question of how we can rescue these iconic buildings.”
The owners chose this method of selling because they understand how hard it is to get a business loan and will cover the stamp duty and settlement costs to ensure the new owners have a debt-free start.
Interested applicants are required to pay a $100 processing fee to be eligible and a minimum of 20,000 people need to apply.
“Probably 150 people have applied to date and it’s been very slow around Christmas but we’ve had plenty of interest and so many people are asking questions,” she said.
“It’s people doing their due diligence and homework and I understand this takes time.
“I am really trying to stay hopeful that we will reach our target but if we don’t, we may have to reconsider what the next option is.”
Mrs Cox said she is “concerned” that some people are apprehensive towards the selling method and therefore may be holding off from applying.
“I hope people can move away from this unusual selling method and can preserve Australian heritage,” she said.
Despite keeping tight-lipped on some of the ideas put forward by applicants for the hotel’s future, Mrs Cox said broad themes include keeping the hotel in the hospitality industry.
“We’re keeping our mouths shut but the majority have been based around the hospitality industry, which was what the hotel was built around to capture the locals attention and support,” the owner said.
“Others have been passionate about supporting people through the business, which I think is a lovely idea to pay it forward and then they can pass on the benefits to those in need.”
Applications for the iconic hotel close on March 15.
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