Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Newtown Hotel Renovation Proposal

Image - Humphrey Edwards Interior Designers and Architects

It's been a while since I've been as excited about a development proposal as this one. The main reason (apart from the re-opening of a venue that's been closed for way too long) is that this proposed renovation includes the reconstruction of the original verandas. There are several diagram of how it might look, including a front view here (pdf).

I'd like to complement the consultants on the detailed preparation done for this D.A; I've never seen such a well researched application. Anyone interested in local history should take a look at the Heritage Appendices (Appendix 3.x), and there's a lot of information on how the renovated hotel will look in other documents.

Gleeson Grocers - (c) City of Sydney Archives

Those of you familiar with old photos of Newtown will know that these verandas were once commonplace along King Street. These days however they're virtually non-existent - instead mostly replaced by awnings and occasionally (C.B.A. building for example) nothing at all.

Hopefully this D.A (if approved) will be the start of a trend; I imagine one of the motivators for this is the provision of smoking area - an unfortunate consequence of the indoors smoking ban in pubs (which the mayor loves) is that the best areas of many bars (the outdoors ones) now resemble ashtrays - but these verandas provide a neat solution for those bars that don't have outdoor areas; as well as extending table space for dining areas.

More positively this could increase the utility of the first floor of the buildings along King Street; hopefully some first floors could become small bars or even restaurants if verandas become more prevalent. I'd love to see official council policy encourage recreation of verandas along King Street - someone should speak to the Mayor !

I'm not aware of all the details of the dispute between the building owners and Newtown Hotel operators; although there is some good background here and here. The most recent news suggests that a compromise was brewing - here's hoping that's the case. I'd be interested if anyone has some inside info - drop me a note.

The trading hours requested are only to midnight - personally I think this is a shame; with the restriction on using the King Street entrance only after 11pm I can't see why the bar can't stay open until a few hours later. The proposed design also seems to include private dining rooms - and even a function area (see the 2nd floor plans), as well an internal courtyard and outdoor dining area.

All in all, a promising looking D.A - let's hope it gets up, and sparks a trend for the re-veranda-isation (there's a neologism for you) of King Street.


  1. I liked the look of the DA as well, and like you I think bringing back the verandas are a great idea. I live on the other side of King St and my building originally had verandas too. How I'd love it if it still had them. Lets hope there's more redevelopments that are similarly sympathetic to the heritage of the area, and using them to advantage like this one has.

  2. Much better than the option the Kurrajong has tried for, which is basically an indoor pokies-garden, with a part of the roof removed.

  3. I'd love for the verandahs to get approved but I'm not holding my breath. The Rose of Australia in Erko has applied 3 times with photographic proof of past verandahs and been rejected everytime. The Bank Hotel pushed very hard for a verandah over king street, the plans looked great, again with photograph precedence and got knocked back. I'm pretty sure the Marly tried as well. I'm not sure why that get turned down but I presume it's a safety concern. Drunk people throwing things over pedestrians and cars is my guess.

  4. I do like the proposal and, you're right, those verandahs would be a great addition.

    Was there any informaion that the venue would continue to service the gay and lesbian community?

  5. Now that is more like it!
    The people responsible for this should be signed up for the Newtown Station refurb immediately!
    But will it still be a pub?

  6. All the verandahs were removed back in, I think, the 1920s. Car accidents would cause the verandahs to fall onto pedestrians, injurin them. The building code was changed so that awnings had to be suspended from above rather than supported by posts.

    You can on so many buildings how the suspension rods have ben added very cheaply.

    I wonder whether than building code is still on the books?

  7. I applaud the verandah restortation.
    Will it still be a gay pub? If not, will another gay pub be opened in King St?

  8. Interesting that verandas have been tried before. It looks like we need to show some support for the idea. I wonder if it's the car aspects or the falling objects that's the main problem - I suspect probably the former.

    It should be possible to engineer enough redundancy into the design that the verandas can survive even with a couple of poles taken out though.

  9. I love the idea of the verandah (on the Newtown as well
    as other buildings on King St).
    I have though been on the verandah of the Marly upstairs and saw a very well dressed, and thouroughly sloshed guy hurl glasses on a pedestrian. This though could have happened out an open window as well, so I hope they don't use something like that as an excuse to knock back the verandahs.

  10. Great to see the Newtown making a comeback! Once the Hub and the Imperial return, Newtown will be buzzing with excitement!
    Reviewing the DA plans, I believe the reason for the 12am closing time is that there is no niteclub or dancing area shown. Having the open verandah will cause excess noise levels and may upset the Watkins St residents.
    Appears that the owners may be considering a more wine bar/fine dining experience.

  11. The midnight closing would also be where they start. Almost as soon as they open I bet an application to extend hours goes in. Fine by me. Didn't the old Newtown Hotel have later opening?

  12. please please bring back the verandah!

  13. Aren't all venues in Newtown gay and lesbian friendly? I don't think separate venues are needed on King Street.

    That's why I love coming to Newtown!

  14. I have noticed that the building rubyos is in at the start of king street is blessed by a verandah, so hopefully they haven't been banned

  15. Good point - fingers crossed that they use that as a (recent) precedent for the verandahs.

    It's an interesting omission re the Gay and Lesbian angle. Looks like no reconciliation with the old managers then. In the mean time the Bank (Velvet Room at least) seems to have filled the gap.

  16. Having a gay & lesbian pub/bar is important to the queer community, much like having a Greek club is important to the Greek community.

    There isn't a pub/bar that really caters solely to this demographic in Newtown anymore which is something a large portion of the gay/lesbian community feel sad about.

    You'll be suprised by the amount of gays/lesbians who speak nostalgically about the good old days when there were gay venues in Newtown.

  17. I get the desire by some in the GLBT community to have a gay venue, but I love the idea of place like the Bank. Certainly among my str8 friends it's seen as a gay venue and that's why they like. It's cool, easy, plenty of eye candy. A couple of weeks ago my flatmate and I were chatting with a lovely girl an her veyr cute 21 year old, bass playing, str8 brother joined us.
    As a 39 year (only just) young gay man I loved being able to chat with this kid and do so comfortably and not have our sexuality be an issue. That's what I love about the Bank.
    A couple of weeks ago I was outside the Bank having a smoke (sorry Mr. Mayor) and was joined by a strapping guy around my age. We chatted and got along well. Two girls sat down and started chatting with us. After a while they made a statement assuming we were partners we laughed. At that point I discovered he was str8 and he that I was gay. Not an issue. Again, that's what I like about venues that are "gay friendly". It's just normal people meeting and developing a sense of community.
    I'm all for a gay venue, but I long for the day where we don't have to label venues, it may make picking up more of a challenge, but hey that can be fun too.

  18. The Rubyos building has verandahs, which were also restored, so DA approval must be possible.

    The Imperial is a different case; there was a past Victorian imperial which has verandahs, but it was completely rebuilt in the 30s with a Deco facade, on which verandahs would not be appropriate.

  19. This is fantastic, this is how it should be .... renovated in its true glory.... I am in love with this building already!!! ....and it has not even finish. Keep this up. I am really proud of the newtown council. There should be more done