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Launceston landmark leads revival

Edition 195_SilosHotel

A new Launceston landmark – Peppers Silo Hotel – has opened for business in a city currently riding the wave of a building boom.

The $25 million hotel is now Launceston’s tallest building, and fittingly it was welcomed in style with a black-tie VIP event on the first night of winter celebrating its arrival.

The Peppers Silo Hotel is the latest milestone for Launceston which is undergoing a ‘mini-renaissance’ with a flurry of developments in the pipe-line. This includes the $260 million university mega-campus, North Bank and a string of other luxury hotels.

The transformation of the old Kings Wharf grain silos into the gleaming new nine-storey Peppers Silo Hotel involved two years of construction and a decade of planning.

It is also the latest offering from prolific local developer, Errol Stewart, who says his city is “experiencing unprecedented development”.

“In my working life of 25 years in Launceston, I don’t think the city has ever been going better,” Mr Stewart told The Examiner. “I am proud of what we have delivered, and I believe that this building will now become iconic for Launceston.”

ARTAS Architects were commissioned to design the 108-room hotel.

“This is a very important development for the city,” ARTAS Director, Scott Curran, said.

“Launceston can now offer something very unique, where people have the opportunity to stay in an old converted grain silo with many of the original features – such as concrete walls – being retained as the hotel’s distinguishing features.”

Meantime, just down the road from the Peppers Silo Hotel, another large development is underway. This is North Bank, the $9 million project that is transforming an old industrial site into parkland and will be connected to the CBD by a pedestrian bridge across the North Esk River.

“Peppers Silo Hotel is actually the trigger for the development of North Bank as it is right next door to the site,” Mr Curran explained.

“And together both these developments are very significant as they will bring people back to this part of the river once again.”

North Bank is a council initiative and Launceston Mayor, Albert van Zetten, told The Examiner: “We are incredibly excited about this project and the way it is going to transform a riverfront area of our city and open it up to new possibilities.”

Another indicator of Launceston’s boom is the $40 million revival of one of the city’s oldest landmarks, the CH Smith building – another Errol Stewart project – which will soon be office space after sitting vacant for three decades.

Then there are the hotels. Three more luxury offerings.

A $50 million hotel overlooking Cataract Gorge is being proposed by Launceston’s other prolific developer, Josef Chromy; a 25-storey hotel near City Park is on the books of Singapore giant, The Fragrance Group; while the 78-room Hotel Verge on the CBD fringe has already been approved for Stay Tasmania.

However, the biggest development of them all by far, is the $260 million mega campus the University of Tasmania is planning to build in the heart of the city at Inveresk.

“This will be the game-changer for Launceston and the opportunities that are going to come out of Inveresk are unprecedented,” Scott Curran, said. “I can’t think of anything else that will be so important for the city.”

While Hobart has been riding the wave of a MONA-led renaissance for a number of years, Launceston’s current building boom is only just getting started.

In fact, local business leaders say it dates back to the announcement of the $280 million Launceston City Deal by the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the run-up to the 2016 Federal Election.

This is the five-year plan that aims to position Launceston as one of Australia’s most innovative and liveable regional cities.

“I can pin-point the exact time that Launceston took off, and that was when the City Deal was announced,” Chamber of Commerce Executive Officer, Neil Grose, said.

“That created the perfect storm where everything started to change and it triggered this ‘mini renaissance’. Suddenly everyone’s attitudes about Launceston shifted with developers and investors looking at us as the next boom-town saying we can do something special here.”

Yes, things are definitely happening.

Last financial year Launceston City Council approved development applications worth $112 million, but this year that figure has already jumped to $183 million.

Describing Launceston as a city of entrepreneurs and innovators, Mr Grose is confident the best is yet to come.

“In five years' time Launceston will be one of the greatest regional cities in Australia – no doubt about it,” he said.

Image courtesy of ARTAS Architects

12 June 2018, Edition 195

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