Mental asylum becomes residential community

Historical images of the old mental asylum, Mosman Hall, in Charters Towers.

A former mental hospital in Charters Towers is being given a $40 million overhaul that will turn the site into a masterplanned community, unique to the region.

Purchased for a little over $1 million by British investor Les Bone 10 years ago, Kernow Park is hoped to be transformed into a lively mixed-use community of more than 400 dwellings to be completed over the next two years.

At the heart of the development is the former 1950s asylum Mosman Hall, offering a striking focal point.

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It will include up to 33 apartments and cottages, all of which will feature pool or garden views, original high ceilings and refurbished floorboards.

Kernow Charters Towers mental asylum

With Stage One now completed, investors are invited to inspect one of the 14 self-contained units at Kernow.

Bone, who is based in Hong Kong, says he was first drawn to Charters Towers in 2003 when he purchased a mining and drilling company.

“When I came here, I used to stay at a place called Cattleman’s Rest. One day the owner said to me: ‘I’m going to see this old hospital that’s up for tender, do you want to come?’

“So I did, put a tender on it and won it without any idea what we were going to do with it.

Stage two will consist of land blocks, retirement units and a clubhouse and bar by the lake

“So now we have 8000sqm of buildings and 200 acres in the town.”

Bone and partner Vanessa Stanley-Johns decided to transform the property into a masterplanned community, starting with the construction of 15 self-contained units.

Charters Towers mental asylum Kernow development

An artist’s impression of the completed Kernow project.

“We built these 15 units to show people what can be done with these old buildings,” Bone says.

“Stage one was completed last year and the market we’re now going for is investment properties.

“So the idea is that people buy these properties, not to live in but to rent out and manage on the owner’s behalf, a bit like what you see being done on the Gold Coast and in Cairns. There is no serviced apartment accommodation in Charters Towers.”

Mosman Hall Charters Towers mental asylum apartments

From mental hospital to executive style apartments, this transformation at Kernow is one for the ages. Picture: Lydia Kellner

With two of the units already sold to Western Australian investors, Bone says he is ready to move on to the next phase: the construction of a 200ha lake and the rejuvenation of the main admin building.

The last stage of Phase One will be the off-plan sale of the 13 units in the opposite wing which, by continuing the same unique design process undertaken in Block A, will finish what will be a unique development.

Mental asylum Charters Towers Mosman Hall

The way it used to be. Images of Block B which is yet to be developed but will mirror Block A.

“We want to hear from builders and renovators as stage two will consist of land blocks, retirement units and a clubhouse and bar by the lake,” Bone says.

This article from The Townsville Bulletin was originally published as “Charters Towers mental hospital turned into lifestyle apartments“.