A fire-damaged, heritage-listed hotel left to deteriorate for more than seven years could be redeveloped into a 27-storey residential tower complex under plans being considered by the Brisbane City Council.
The original building was designed by John Hall and Son in the elaborate late-Victorian Queen Anne Revival style, and was built from 1889 as luxurious accommodation for visitors from out of town. It has remained vacant since a fire ripped through it in July 2010.
Developer Majella Property Developments submitted plans for the refurbishment of the hotel and the addition of the tower in March 2017. With design by Hayes Anderson Lynch Architects, the proposal is described as a project that would merge heritage and cultural identity with the economic growth of the area.
According to an architectural design report submitted as part of the development application, the main focus of the proposal would be the revitalization of the historic hotel, with the adjacent tower complex to reference to the hotel’s design.
“Taking inspiration from the shape and scale of the hotel’s turrets, and the articulation of its form, the proposed tower is composed of similarly proportioned turrets,” the architects’ statement reads. “These turrets are incorporated on all facades, breaking its horizontal appearance into that which comfortably sits alongside the historic hotel.”
The $260 million complex would include 262 units and 33 commercial tenancies across the first three levels. There would also be a five level basement car park.
The proposal has proved controversial, with council indicating its lack of support for the building’s then-25-storey height at a pre-lodgement meeting, as well raising questions about the extent of demolition.
Seven public submissions have raised concerns with the demolition of parts of the hotel, including World War II bunkers on the site, as well as with the form and scale of the tower.
One submission noted that the proposed building is lacking in terms of passive energy solutions and that it has a “bulky, greedy” appearance. Several others raised objections to the extent of demolition and questioned why the hotel had been left to deteriorate for so long. “I am upset that the heritage building owner has not maintained the building since the 2010 fire,” said one objector.
“A requirement to make the building weather tight has not been met. Significant fabric, including concrete in the hotel, basement and air-raid shelter, has perished because of this neglect.
“I do not think council should reward owners who neglect significant fabric of heritage buildings by giving them approval to demolish the building they left to rot.”
Two months after Majella Property Developments submitted its development application, another fire caused significant damage to the hotel. A request by the developer to conduct emergency works on the hotel, including some demolition, was approved by the council in September 2017. The council also directed the developer to secure and waterproof the site.
But according to reports from Fairfax, the hotel remains unsecured, with broken windows and fences.
The council granted the developer an extension to make submissions in response to concerns in November, and the application remains under consideration.