Guildford’s historic hotel is again destined for glory, after a surprise decision reinstated a development proposal that will make the massive restoration possible.
The 1886-built pub in WA’s Guildford was destroyed by a fire in 2008 and languished until developer Luke Martino purchased it, with plans to construct residential apartments behind the hotel to offset the cost of the Hotel restoration.
But in June, Local Council went against a report by the City of Swan recommending development up to 25 metres (eight storeys) and instead ruled the apartments could be just two storeys.
Council cited a decision based on the ‘Guildford Heritage Precinct Masterplan’ and consultation with the community, who believe the height would be out of character in the area.
And now State Planning Minister John Day has overturned Council’s decision, compromising with a five-storey limit, which is only just taller than the existing hotel’s frontage.
Redevelopment of the Guildford Hotel itself has been underway since early 2015, and the business is set to be run by the acclaimed Publican Group, which operates around 15 venues predominantly in Melbourne and Perth.
Speaking with PubTIC, director Steve Garcia said they have been there hand-in-hand with the builders from the beginning, and are working hard to preserve as many of the key features in the building as possible.
“We’re hoping to bring a bit of the city into the suburbs,” said Garcia.
“Guildford is such a beautiful town. It has a real heritage air to it, and lots of old buildings. It has a country feel, but is really not that far from the city.”
“It’s at the doorstep to the Swan Valley, which is a real destination, with a multitude of micro-breweries and fine wine and food.
“There are so many layers, and things we want to retain because they are part of the history of the pub. Many things are no longer structural, but have been kept due to their significance.
“A lot of things don’t match, such as skirting and architraves. We’re working closely with Heritage and using old photos to get it right.”
Original features in walls, old fireplaces and windows are being made more prominent through clever use of modern products such as specialty lighting, and the new bar placed in the middle of the room, away from the building’s fixtures.
The project has revealed a number of treasure troves, most notably a magnificent terrazzo floor – hidden under no less than five additional layers of flooring laid on top. Also found was a long-forgotten cellar that will be covered in glass to become a feature in the new bar.
Martino is reportedly already several million dollars into the incomplete restoration, even before the development plans are finalised. Similarly Publican Group has committed a significant investment, and asked about the significance of this to their grand plan, Garcia said they are always looking ahead.
“We’ve always got irons in the fire. We’re always looking for opportunities, because, like Guildford, some things take time.
“I believe you are always either growing or dying. There’s no middle-ground.”