The owners of the Great Northern Hotel say work is on track to reopen its downstairs bar early next month and start accepting overnight visitors by mid-2019.
The Herald reported in July that work had begun on fitting out the heritage building, and the new publican, Ben McBeath, hoped to open before the Melbourne Cup on November 6.
Former owner Kurt Braune, who is handling the hotel’s refurbishment on behalf of Sydney developer Bass Elhashem, said this week that contractors were working to meet that deadline after Scott Street reopened to traffic two weeks ago.
“We’re delighted that the road is finally open and we now have access to the site,” Mr Braune said after more than half a year of light rail works in front of the hotel.
“The structural work is done and now it’s just about the finishing.”
The developers have also gained Newcastle City Council approval to refurbish the art deco hotel’s 88 rooms and install a rooftop bar. A modern annex next door will house 21 serviced apartments and a rooftop pool.
The refurbishment project has been beset by legal battles, closures and building issues dating back to before the 1989 earthquake.
Mr Braune lodged a development application in 2004 but sold the building in 2013 before the new owners revived the restoration in 2015.
Work started two years ago but stopped when it was discovered the building would need an electricity substation.
The hotel, which opened in 1938, is listed by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage as an item of state significance.
OEH says the building has “one of the few intact examples of a ‘jazz-style’ interior”, although its exterior has been compromised by 1950 additions.