Hotels to shape new Hobart skyline

The Hobart skyline currently features many cranes. Picture: Nikki Davis-Jones.

There was a lot of talk in 2017 about the number of cranes over Hobart’s skyline and how they are a good indicator for economic prosperity.

In this time of booming tourism in Tasmania, hotel developments are the big-ticket item for developers in the capital.

Hotel developments worth more than $855 million and boasting 2500 rooms for Hobart were completed last year or were in the process of being built.

The Ibis Styles Hobart in Macquarie St and the luxurious MACq 01 in Hunter St added 410 beds.

Here, we take a look at some of the big players who will dominate the commercial development scene in 2018.


Fragrance Hotel Hobart

The new Fragrance hotel in Macquarie St, Hobart. Picture: Sam Rosewarne.

Five years ago, the name of this Singaporean developer would not have meant much to the average Hobartian.

Now, the controversial proposals put forward by Fragrance has stirred up a broad and intense debate about what the community wants the future Hobart to look like.

Led by property tycoon James Koh, Fragrance has spent many millions buying Tasmanian real estate and planning high-rise hotels.

In May, Fragrance lodged development applications with the council for a 120m 400-room hotel in Davey St and a 75m, 495-room hotel in Collins St — worth a combined $230 million.

The proposals have provoked significant public opposition this year, including from high-profile Tasmanians actor Essie Davis and award-winning author Richard Flanagan.

More than seven months later, the applications have yet to be publicly advertised.

The company has also bought a Sandy Bay Rd site which includes the University of Tasmania’s Conservatorium of Music, a warehouse, three brick buildings in Heathfield Ave, three heritage-listed conjoined cottages in Wilmot St and a communications tower.

Plus, a development application was lodged with the Hobart City Council in June for Fragrance’s site at 234-250 Elizabeth St, in the section of the city becoming known as MidTown, between the CBD and North Hobart.

Details of this project are scant, but it is understood the building will be a mixed-use hotel.

The Sunday Tasmanian revealed in November Koh had also scored a behind-the-scenes coup to buy the former Westpac building in the Elizabeth Street bus mall, which will be home to the Hyatt Centric Hotel.

Work on the 63m tall hotel began in late December.

How much of a role Fragrance will have to play in Hobart is yet to be seen, with only the recently acquired Hyatt approved.

The remaining proposals are yet to go through the council process.


Floating hotel Tasmania

The floating hotel proposal by Robert Morris-Nunn.

One of Tasmania’s most prolific architects had another busy year progressing some of his projects and turning his mind to new ones.

His latest proposal was revealed in early December, a floating hotel on the River Derwent that would champion technology pioneered in the state.

Anchored next to the Regatta Grounds, the hotel would follow in the tradition of Hobart’s floating bridge, the predecessor to the Tasman Bridge, and more recently the new Brooke St Pier.

It would have about 270 rooms and the potential for more, with restaurants, retail space and bars on the ground floor.

The circular design would feature suites facing outward and inward, with the latter looking into a central court.

In partnership with Sydney-based Waterborne Developments, Prof Morris-Nunn says a development application is expected to be lodged with the Hobart City Council late this month.


Hobart’s Eastern Shore hasn’t seen much in the way of big development in comparison to across the river.

The $50 million development of a hotel and hospitality training school by multibillion-dollar Chinese petrochemical company Shandong Chambroad and Prof Morris-Nunn’s Hunter Developments was approved by the Clarence City Council last January.

But, a second application for the project was approved last month to address concerns raised by residents.

A group of concerned Bellerive residents gathered hundreds of signatures to protest what they says is a lack of community consultation and a disregard for local planning laws when land for the project was transferred from the State Government.

Of particular ire to opponents is the height of the secondary building closest to Cambridge Rd, which would house the hospitality school and apartments in the original application.

The permit for the original proposal remains valid, so the proponents could still build according to that more contested design if they wanted.

With the land transfer completed and two approved plans, people should expect work on the project to begin this year.


The standout development for the State Government’s planned national parks eco-tourism boom is Prof Morris-Nunn and Michael Lynch’s proposal for Recherche Bay.

The plan calls for a resort built on seven pontoons moored just offshore in Recherche Bay.

The site would have no access to the land except by boat or seaplane.

The pontoons would support two-storey structures built to resemble the hulls of French explorer ships and traditional Tasmanian Aboriginal canoes.

There has been something of a holdup with obtaining the 99-year crown land leases needed to get the project moving along.


Marriott Hotel Heritage Hobart

The bathroom in the Heritage suite at the new Marriot International Hotel. Picture: Sam Rosewarne.

The five-star, seven-storey Marriott Hotel being built at the Parliament Square site near Salamanca is on track for completion late this year.

The 128-room $50 million hotel, which marks the debut of Marriott International in Tasmania, will be housed in an assortment of re-purposed heritage buildings.

Guests would enter the hotel through 12 Murray St, which would also include a rooftop bar.

Marriott regional vice-president Sean Hunt was in Hobart in October to reveal the name of the new hotel, The Tasman, at a special event in Parliament Square.


Crowne Plaza Hotel Tasmania

The Crowne Plaza Hotel to be build above Myer.

The $45 million Crowne Plaza was originally due to open in October after the Intercontinental Hotels Group signed a management deal with the Kalis Group in 2015 to build the luxury hotel in the $100 million Icon Complex.

The progress of the hotel and the overall development was delayed in July 2016 when a Hobart Rivulet wall collapsed and flooded the basement of the Myer store.

In July, an Intercontinental spokesman said the hotel would now open in the first quarter of next year.


University of Tasmania development Hedberg

University of Tasmania’s creative industries and performance arts development, The Hedberg.

The university’s gradual move into the CBD brings with it a lot of change and investment.

The biggest project is the push for a $400 million STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) precinct, planned to be built at the corner of Melville and Argyle streets.

The project previously received priority status from Infrastructure Australia, meaning the Federal Government is taking the project seriously.

Economic modelling undertaken for the university indicated the proposal would create 755 jobs during construction and at least 190 ongoing academic and other staff jobs, would increase student numbers by about 1500 and add about $2.75 billion to Tasmania’s gross state product over 10 years.

Hopes are pinned on the project being included in any potential Hobart City Deal.

Meanwhile, the $96 million creative industries and performance arts development, The Hedberg, will take shape in Hobart over the next several months.

A 39m crane was installed at the site on the corner of Campbell and Collins streets in October.

It is expected students from disciplines such as music, theatre, design and architecture will begin using the site and its state-of-the-art technology from August next year.

The Hedberg is a partnership between the UTAS, Theatre Royal and the State Government, and is named after the former Hedberg Brothers Garage, which was built on the Collins St site in 1925.

This article from The Mercury was originally published as “Hotels on horizon as Hobart’s future takes shape”.