First look inside the Rozelle Tramsheds transformationThe distinctive sawtooth facade may have been retained, but what lies within the Tramsheds redevelopment is a vastly different space. Photo: Rebecca Holland

First look inside the Rozelle Tramsheds transformation

Five years ago, the six abandoned trams were the only hint of glory days at the Rozelle tramsheds.

What was once an important section of the Sydney tram network had been shut down half a century before – years of neglect resulting in a near-derelict building, the very columns holding it together riddled with rust.

Vandals and graffiti artists had invaded. “People were falling from the roof into the building as a way of getting in,” says Adrian Checcin of the developer, Mirvac.

But at the end of August, the long-awaited Tramsheds will rise again.

Mirvac is creating a European-style food hall, complete with the gelato palace Messina. Even one of the trams will be back. “In the form of a dining car in a restaurant which you can book out, and the original tram tracks will be reinterpreted in a section near the building entrance,” Mr Checcin said.

There’ll also be an independent supermarket, a community hall and some of Sydney’s biggest food names under the one roof.

Darker times - two old trams sit inside the dilapidated tram sheds interior. Photo: Supplied Darker times – two old trams sit inside the dilapidated tram sheds interior. Photo: Supplied

Commercial Real Estate was recently given a sneak peek of what residents of the nearby Harold Park apartments and tourists can expect, and why Mirvac has so much banking on the project.

The two standaside Tramsheds have been combined, creating a large, open space flooded with light from the rooftop skylights.

The supermarket retailer will be take up one half of the ground floor, and the food hall the other, with the community hall and car-parking sitting on a mezzanine level above.

The food hall has been fully leased. Apart from Gelato Messina, others coming include Butcher & The Farmer and Fish and Co.

Retail manager Kelli Shoesmith said all were keen to buy in to Mirvac’s conceptual approach to the redevelopment.

She says the complex will offer far more than a dining experience – the restaurateurs will offer cooking classes as well.

“So it could be something from our Italian guy, teaching people how to make the perfect pastas or ravioli, or it could be our fish guy teaching people about sustainable fishing,” Ms Shoesmith said.

“We pretty much had all of those restaurateurs jumping straight on the bandwagon because of that unique opportunity.”

Complementing this will be a central kitchen space, able to be hired out by pop-up food vendors or one-off cooking classes.

Looking down on the Tramsheds food hall under construction with the planned kitchen location marked out in yellow. Photo: Rebecca Holland Looking down on the Tramsheds food hall under construction with the planned kitchen location marked out in yellow. Photo: Rebecca Holland

“These tenants are visionaries, they’ve got a concept in mind and when they see the space, they’re convinced it will work.

“They’re not closed shopfronts, it’s all exposed steel work and open and it’s very much like a borough market, with an open feel where there are obviously tenants but it’s got the feel of there being traders.”

Not all of the redevelopment will be future focused though, with hints at the building’s past use scattered throughout – and not just the tram.

“We’ve kept all of the graffiti pieces – with the exception of a couple of untoward words – all of the pieces that were here when we started are staying as they are,” Mr Checcin said.

Twilight at the Tramsheds with the moon rising behind. Photo: Rebecca Holland Twilight at the Tramsheds. Photo: Rebecca Holland

Ms Shoesmith added: “In Gelato Messina they’ve actually still got the stairs that the maintenance workers used to go down to work underneath the trams.”

There will be 3.8 hectares of publicly accessible parkland adjoining the Tramsheds, and a community space overlooking the food hall inside.

Forming part of the greater Harold Park development, the Tramsheds are also in close proximity to the Jubilee Park Light Rail station – both factors crucial to the Tramsheds’ success.

“You can see how easy it would be, you live in Harold Park, you walk across the park, you get your coffee and paper in the morning, you traverse through, come and catch the light rail …. 15 minutes and you’re in the city in your office. It’s very easy, you don’t need a car,” Mr Checcin said.

Upstairs at the Tramsheds will be a carpark (pls confirm that this is correct). The roof has been rebuilt in keeping with the original sawtooth roof. Photo: Rebecca Holland Upstairs at the Tramsheds will be a carpark  and community space. The roof has been rebuilt in keeping with the original sawtooth shape. Photo: Rebecca Holland

When it is finally finished, the Rozelle Tramsheds will stand as a precursor to what Australia’s new wave of mixed-use developments could look like, according to Mirvac –  critical at a time when Sydney’s wider Bays precinct is being touted as the next development hot spot.

“You can imagine being here with your family or kids or whatever. It’s going to be incredible,” Mr Checcin said.

“It’s going to be a catalyst for people and community and retail in the area. This is a destination – it’s not just get your groceries and see you later.”

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