Great Western Hotel to go

The gold rush era Great Western Hotel will be partially demolished to make way for a mixed-use 80m tower with 26 levels.

The pub’s two-storey brick facade will be incorporated into the new building, designed by DKO Architecture.

Constructed in 1864 at 204 King St as Star of the West, the Great Western Hotel is one of the oldest pubs in Melbourne.

Despite its history, the pub has a C heritage grade based on the City of Melbourne’s Central City Heritage Review, making it unprotected from demolitions or developments.

City of Melbourne granted approval for developer Jin Yi to partially demolish Great Western and construct the tower at its July 4 Future Melbourne Committee meeting.

Some 61 formal objections were received by the City of Melbourne prior to the meeting.

Jin Yi applied for a full demolition in its original proposal last December, but submitted a revised application to keep the pub facade after the council’s objection.

Last drinks were called at the Great Western Hotel in March and the partial demolition is set to start soon.

The building’s ground level will be used for retail, with offices on the first and second levels and 64 apartments on the upper levels.

A spokesperson for the developer said retaining the original pub facade was “an appropriate compromise”.

“The proposed design skilfully incorporates the retained heritage fabric into a contemporary, elegant development, which demonstrates considered detailing and fantastic architectural quality,” he said.

The spokesperson also said the ground floor retail facility and “sympathetic alterations” of the retained facade would “provide an enhanced sense of activity to the pedestrian environment”.

Rene Spoors from Melbourne Heritage Action said preservation and integration of heritage buildings should be the first consideration.

“Over 60 objections to its demolition demonstrate the community does not want the Great Western to go the same way as the Corkman Inn, which went under the wrecking ball last year,” he said.

Mr Spoors acknowledged the council’s previous efforts in retaining unprotected heritage building facades, including the Art Deco facade at 35 City Rd in Southbank.

“Whilst our ideal outcome is always to retain and integrate heritage buildings into new developments, where there is a lack of formal protection, sensible restoration of building facades is to be preferred over demolition,” he said.

The new building replacing the Great Western Hotel on the 325sqm site will have a floor area ratio of 20.6:1, exceeding the 18:1 standard.

In addition to the Great Western Hotel, developer Figtree submitted an application in 2015 to demolish the 1920s neo-Egyptian style Duke of Kent Hotel and its neighbouring buildings at 293-303 LaTrobe St to build a 66-level residential tower.

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