The historic Terminus Hotel – for years a local to Pyrmont’s working class and a longtime boarded-up asset in the controversial Wakil family portfolio – is set to return to its former glory, albeit this time with a fine-dining twist.
The Terminus was purchased by a private partnership in April for a price just shy of $5 million, with the new owner revealing exclusively to Commercial Real Estate this week that the venue is set to become a “gastropub” with basic accommodation and either a cafe or office component.
“We saw it and it was a great challenge and a worthy project for us. We always saw it as a restoration because that’s what interests us most,” says David, who is one half of the partnership and who did not want his last name published.
Video: Pat Stevens
The hotel, one of many previously owned by the reclusive Wakil family, has been boarded up since last drinks were called in 1984.
“It’s been asleep for over 30 years,” David says. “When it went to sleep all the neighbours were like that and it’s been a time capsule for all that time while the rest of Pyrmont has been transformed.”
The site was purchased from the Wakils by developer Auswin TWT in 2015, which subdivided the property before offloading the Terminus and retaining the carpark for an apartment development.
Ivy covers the outside of the Terminus Hotel in Pyrmont. Photo: Steven Siewert
A development application was submitted for the residential project in July and is now under assessment by the City of Sydney.
Consulting engineer David, along with his business partner, a financial director, has previously purchased and restored dilapidated houses in Sydney’s eastern suburbs and engaged in small-scale residential development – but this is by far their biggest project yet.
Importantly for those who remember the Terminus of old, the scope of works includes retaining the original central bar, historic facade, roof tiles and even some of the famous external ivy, which has grown rampant over the years.
Terminus Hotel main bar. Photo: Steven Siewert
Inside, a new kitchen with dining area leading out to an outdoor dining space – made possible by the destruction of the existing garage – will take shape.
David says architecture firm Luchetti Krelle has been appointed to the project, but getting the design right is just part of the challenge. He estimates a development application will be lodged in about six months.
In a suburb with a pub on every corner, one of which is directly across the road, finding a point of difference is also critical.
“We see it as being as much a restaurant as pub, it will offer fresh, adventurous dining but it’ll have the cosy feel of a pub that era,” he says.
The Terminus Hotel, Pyrmont. Photo: Steven Siewert
Getting that balance right calls for more expert opinion, and David and his partner have already been in extensive discussions with one of regional NSW’s hottest bar and dining groups with the aim of conceiving a premium dining product.
The concept and design of the dining space is being developed in consultation with Fraser Haughton and Chris Cornforth, of Harvest Hospitality, which is responsible for small bar operations The Pig and Tinder Box and Percy’s Bar in the NSW cities of Tamworth and Orange respectively.
“The first time Fraser and I saw the hotel we fell in love with it,” Mr Cornforth said. “It’s a rare find and we really want our fit-out and product to do justice to this iconic building.”
Pig and Tinder Box owners Fraser Haughton and Chris Cornforth. Photo: Supplied, The Northern Daily Leader
Mr Cornforth says there will be multiple food and beverage offerings throughout the pub, similar to other projects conducted by larger-scale operations such as Merivale Group and Urban Purveyor Group.
“All will be revealed as time goes on. The project is really about bringing this spectacular Pyrmont pub back to life, the locals have been following it closely, every time we’re there someone new pops their head in and tells us a story of times gone by at the Terminus,” Mr Cornforth says.
When Commercial Real Estate visited the building in March after it was listed for sale, it had fallen into a state of disrepair. The timeframe of the project will be 18 to 24 months, according to David.
That means a likely opening date of spring 2018 for the revamped Terminus.
“There’s a lot of work, the squatters hadn’t done it any favours … broken windows were boarded up, there was rubbish and broken furniture and a bit of a stench. But the building has good bones, ” David says.
Inside the Terminus Hotel. Photo: Steven Siewert
Heritage restrictions and logistical considerations mean that accommodation areas will be kept in their original state – namely small, basic rooms with a communal bathroom at the rear of the building.
The building will eventually operate as three separate entities – a bar and restaurant, accommodation and the space that may be used as a cafe or offices.
A hospitality operator, likely to be Harvest, will operate the bar and restaurant.
David’s private partnership will manage the accommodation offering. The expected cafe or office space – the final configuration of which is dependent on resolving access issues to Harris Street – will potentially be leased to a third party.
It’s a different approach to how the old Terminus used to operate in its heyday, but one that David hopes will strike the right balance with Pyrmont’s mix of office workers and inner-city dwellers while retaining the charm that has seen the building make an impression on so many Sydneysiders.
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