THE $10 million restoration of The Great Northern Hotel is on track with the doors expected to swing open at Easter 2018.
For former owner and current project manager Kurt Braune, the road to reopening the iconic East End hotel has been a long one.
“It was 2003 when I first got involved with the project,” Mr Braune said. “I lodged the application for the refurbishment in 2004 or 2005, we didn’t get the approval until 2008.
“Then the global financial crisis hit. We had everything ready to proceed, but everything went on the back-burner.
“In 2013 an investor came in and acquired the site.
“It’s been a long-winded project but I want to see it finished.”
One of the conditions of approval for works was the restoration of the signature arched windows on the first level.
Permission has now been granted to construct six cantilevered balconies on the first level, which will be accessed through the arched windows.
The hotel is being restored to “original heritage standards”. Cornice trims are being recreated to match the originals and light fittings are also being replicated.
The hotel will offer 88 boutique style accommodation rooms. The yet-to-be constructed, minimalist-style rooftop restaurant will offer expansive views of the harbour, Nobbys and the Hunter Valley. It will have a seating capacity of 300, but will not be visible from street level.
The international style restaurant will be operated by Ben McBeath, who also owns Sydney’s ArtHouse Hotel. Mr McBeath will also operate level one’s function rooms – with a seating capacity of 500 to 600 – and the ground level front bar and bistro, lobby bar and the former Tiki Bar.
Mr Braune expects the hotel will employ up to 100 people at peak times.
In November 2016, works hit a snag when it was discovered a substation would be required to supply power to the six-storey building.
An agreement with a neighbouring building, 13 Watt Street, to share facilities has resolved a problem which could have seen the entire project abandoned. It is now subject to Ausgrid’s final approval.