Iris has changed tack in its massive East End development, now considering a hotel operator for an alternative use in the former David Jones building.
The four-stage development at Newcastle’s East End originally conceived 16 large apartments to occupy the landmark building, but these were never released to market as the company says it was unresolved as to whether that was the best use for the structure.
On Friday Iris CEO Sam Arnaout announced they would be testing market interest amongst operators looking to run an upmarket hotel at the site, with 110 rooms.
Arnaout says the hotel would better respect the building, and notes the lack of accommodation in the area, which has seen major proposals submitted and still in negotiation with Doma Group and Holiday Inn, alongside major infrastructure advancements including the new light rail and airport expansion to meet increased population and tourism demand.
Pending a successful EOI campaign through Colliers International, Iris hopes to secure amended approval from the Joint Regional Planning Panel, and begin operations of the hotel by 2020.
The existing plans to build 288 units at the site are unaffected by the change of purpose at the proposed hotel, and Iris reports over three quarters of Stage 1 units have been sold.
At time of writing, a Fairfax survey asking for readers’ preference for the building returns 71.68 per cent see a hotel as the best use, the next highest preferred being a community space, with 10.44 per cent.