Five star hotel fitout set to start as City of Newcastle makes final preparations for move

24 Sep 2019

City of Newcastle will move into its new Administration Centre (CAC) at 12 Stewart Avenue on 8 October, allowing new owners Crystalbrook Collection to commence work on converting it into the City’s first five star hotel.

Concurrently, City of Newcastle will recommence the campaign to sell or lease the Frederick Ash building (FAB) which stopped last year when it became apparent the nearby Roundhouse was likely to receive a spectacular new future as a hotel.

The FAB, along with the adjacent Bennett Building and the Clarendon Hotel, will be marketed by Commercial Collective in conjunction with CBRE and Moore and Moore Real Estate.

City of Newcastle CEO Jeremy Bath said the time was right for expressions of interest to be sought for all three buildings.

“This will be a campaign that will again attract interest both domestically and internationally. The opportunity to buy into a precinct that will in 12 months’ time be home to Australia’s newest five star hotel, will undoubtedly create significant excitement.

“For the City of Newcastle, our job is to maximise the value of those buildings for ratepayers as well as create opportunities for the private sector to invest in the civic precinct to further its position as the cultural capital of the region.

“Not only will the area include the Kingsley Hotel, but also the Civic Theatre, the Newcastle Art Gallery, The Newcastle Museum, the Civic light rail station, Newcastle Library, the soon to open Visitor Information Centre and Museum Park.

“The City will now seek expressions of interest for the three buildings, with most interest in the Fred Ash building given its size and current function as office space.”

“Should we secure offers that deliver value for money to ratepayers, I will take the sale or lease of one, two or possibly all three buildings to the elected Council for consideration in the first quarter of next year.”

Mr Bath said the fit out of 12 Stewart Avenue had progressed as planned, with onsite inductions commencing for staff next week before moving in on 8 October.

“Our administrative employees will walk into a modern, collaborative and functional office when they arrive for work at 12 Stewart Avenue on Tuesday 8 October.

“They will leave three buildings, 14 floors and 43 years of memories behind. But we know that the current structure is not allowing our staff to reach their potential, nor is the building in the right location to act as a hub for community and government interaction.

“The fit out of the new office space has been delivered on program, allowing staff to move in just two weeks from now and Crystalbrook to start construction at the Roundhouse shortly after.

“As planned, the fit out is being completed in two stages, with levels 2 to 5 nearing completion while construction will be underway on levels 1 and 6 from October to February. A temporary kitchen will be available for staff use until a permanent one is completed later this year on level 6.

“The City’s Call Centre will temporarily operate from a vacant Council-owned facility in Hamilton while level 1 is completed. This will of course have no impact on our services.

“Anyone who needs to do business with us in person will be able to come to 12 Stewart Avenue from 8 October, where they’ll be greeted by our concierge and served as per usual,” he said.

Crystalbrook Interim CEO and Group Director Hotels Geoff York said Newcastle was a great fit for the Crystalbrook Collection brand.

“We’re excited to be bringing the Crystalbrook Collection brand to Newcastle,” Mr York said.

“We believe the city is a great fit for our brand.

“We’re looking forward to receiving the keys to the Roundhouse and anticipate that construction will begin later this year with the intention of opening the doors to the five-star Kingsley late in 2020.”

The FAB is a State Heritage listed building constructed in 1905, originally understood to have operated as a retail showroom with storage on the upper floors. City of Newcastle purchased the building in 1969 and in more recent years has used the site as office space for administrative staff.

The upcoming EOI will be for sale or lease of the FAB, while EOIs will be sought for the purchase of the current Blue Door Café (Bennett Building) and Clarendon Hotel sites.