In Redevelopment by Clyde Mooney

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North Sydney’s historic Firehouse Hotel will become the nucleus of a massive 35-storey tower through $121 million plans for its airspace.

Publican Mark Barry has owned the pub since 2001, overseeing its conversion from a heritage-listed fire station, built in 1895. It occupies a modest block in North Sydney’s Walker Street, the two-storey Victorian building dwarfed amongst commercial skyscrapers.

A high-rise was slated for next door, at 88 Walker Street, and Nine Entertainment Co will be anchor tenant in the billion-dollar development immediately at the rear, set to bring many companies and around 6,000 workers.

Developer Billbergia has now lodged plans in cooperation with Barry and Marprop Real Estate Partners, which bought 88 Walker last year for around $19 million, for a 1076sqm amalgamated site and 35-storey commercial tower to be built beside and above the pub.

The nine-storey building currently beside the pub, which is vacant, will be demolished.

The new building will be cantilevered over the Firehouse beyond level five, and comprise 224 hotels rooms over 14 levels, five levels of facilities, eight floors of commercial offices, and a rooftop bar on the top.

According to planning documents lodged, it will “respect the heritage significance of the Firehouse Hotel whilst utilising the air space above in a manner commensurate with the strategic importance of the North Sydney CBD”.

Barry told PubTIC he is pleased to be involved, and thinks the result will be striking.

“It does look fantastic. It’s a pretty edgy design.”

North Sydney is experiencing a resurgence in commercial and residential development as well as infrastructure, with the new light rail station destined to pass around a block from Walker Street.

The Firehouse Hotel will continue operation throughout construction, but will see some alterations at the rear to create a new entrance to more easily service the future occupants of the adjacent development(s). It faces opportunity from all directions.

“It just makes sense to maximise the potential,” offers Barry. “It’s great for the future of the place.”

Artist’s rendition of the Firehouse Hotel & tower development