NEWCASTLE will soon become home to two five-star hotels, after planning authorities gave formal approval for QT to go ahead in the former David Jones building.
The City of Newcastle said work on the 104-room hotel with a rooftop bar - part of Iris Capital's $700 million East End Project - was "well underway", after the Hunter and Central Coast Regional Planning Panel gave it stage-one approval as apartments in 2017.
City of Newcastle deputy lord mayor, Declan Clausen, said he welcomed the panel's decision to accept the council's recommendation to approve the five-star hotel.
Event Hospitality Group will run QT Newcastle, which will host up to 208 guests behind the 1880s building's brick facade, arched windows and rendered cornices, which have all been preserved as a condition of the original consent.
Councillor Clausen said the panel's decision was a much-needed boost for the city's east.
"The hotel will breathe new life into the Hunter Street Mall," Cr Clausen said.
"Work is already underway next door on more than a hundred residential apartments and retail and commercial space as part of the east end development.
"Both stages are game changers as they account for more than half the mall."
QT Newcastle's approval follows the conversion of the former city administration centre - known as the "roundhouse" - opposite Civic Park into Newcastle's first five-star hotel.
Syrian billionaire Ghassan Aboud's Crystalbrook Collection took possession of the building when the council relocated to a new office in Newcastle West.
Work began late last year on the 136-room hotel with a rooftop pool.
The council said it would soon start major capital works to overhaul Hunter Street Mall at the street level, with bluestone footpaths, cobblestone laneways and new outdoor eating and retail opportunities.
Cr Clausen said the council hadn't seen a drop in development proposals since COVID-19 restrictions were introduced.
"The numbers show that building development remains strong and that the industry is confident about the next 12 to 18 months."