The owners of the Great Northern Hotel have applied to build a cantilevered swimming pool over Scott Street as part of a new extension to the landmark art deco building.
The syndicate that owns the six-storey hotel plans to erect a narrow annex of 21 serviced apartments to the same height with a pool jutting out 2.5 metres over the street.
Project manager Kurt Braune said a cantilevered pool, a feature of the Adelphi Hotel in Flinders Lane, Melbourne, and the Joule Hotel in Dallas, would help put Newcastle “on the map”.
“That swimming pool has been a bit contentious, in that it’s cantilevered and hangs off the building,” he said.
“It would be a fantastic thing for Newcastle to have some interesting architecture to complement and contrast the heritage building.
“The closest thing is the Adelphi in Melbourne. The water that’s in the pool is above the roof level, with a concrete structure.
“We’re trying to get it done with a glass bottom. The Adelphi’s got a glass bottom. If you’re standing on the street, you could look up and see someone swimming. It’s quite amazing, really.”
Newcastle City Council approved Mr Braune’s development application in 2009 to restore the Great Northern and build the adjoining unit block, but he sold the building in 2013 and work did not start until two years ago.
The new owners, who have faced a series of problems at the site, applied to the council late last year to amend parts of the project, including building the pool.
A council representative said it did not comment on development applications under assessment, but there was “nothing in council’s development control plan that specifically prohibits a rooftop pool of this type”.
“It will make a statement. I personally think is what you want to do in Newcastle is to allow some buildings to stand out that people come to Newcastle and go, ‘Oh, wow, I saw that amazing feature on that building,’” Mr Braune said.
“And also it has something that people can also physically use. If you’re staying in the hotel, you can say, ‘I stayed in this place with this amazing pool on the rooftop.’
“It puts Newcastle on the map. It needs more flexibility, I believe, from the planners to allow these things to happen, not just have the boring, normal, humdrum structures.”
He said work was due to start next month on fitting out the ground-floor bar, which the publican hoped to open by Easter.
Mr Braune hoped the 88 hotel rooms on the top four floors could be open by September, although light rail construction on the street outside could slow the work.
A Sydney company planning to operate a new rooftop bar was keen to start fitting out.
The hotel is listed by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage as an item of state significance.
It says the building has “one of the few intact examples of a ‘jazz-style’ interior”, although its exterior has been compromised by 1950 additions.
The new DA amendments include a request for first-floor balconies along Watt Street.
“One of our insprirations is the QT Hotel in Sydney, the old Gowings building. It’s sort of got to be an eclectic mix of things,” Mr Braune said of the hotel’s interior renovation.
“We’re trying to keep that deco feel, but not as rustic as the QT. More of that sort of luxe art deco, an art-house boutique hotel. That’s the brief we’ve given to the interior designers.”
Deputy lord mayor Declan Clausen said he could not comment about a DA under assessment but was “supportive of development that demonstrates high-quality architectural features that appropriately complement the heritage nature of our city”.
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