City hails first five-star hotel
A landmark deal has been inked that will see the City of Newcastle’s current administrative headquarters transformed into a stunning five-star hotel to be known as the Kingsley.
Overlooking Civic Park, the harbour and Merewether from its upper floors, the Kingsley marks a historic moment in the City’s revitalisation, providing the heartbeat that has always been missing from the local tourism industry.
Purchased by the hospitality group Crystalbrook Collection, the five-star hotel will feature 136 luxury rooms, lobby bar, café with outdoor terrace and a new roof top with restaurant, swimming pool and gymnasium.
Construction and fit out of the new hotel will begin as soon as City of Newcastle staff relocate to their new office on the corner of Hunter Street and Stewart Avenue in the new CBD that is Newcastle West. Crystalbrook Collection expect the Kingsley to be operating by November 2020, in time for the Newcastle 500 and the tens of thousands of visitors it will attract to the city.
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes hailed the landmark deal as a turning point in Newcastle’s history.
"Great cities around the world provide truly great accommodation. And the mark of a great hotel is one done to a five-star standard. Crystalbrook’s decision to invest in Newcastle, when they could have invested anywhere in Australia, says so much about our city and how we are viewed by those living interstate and overseas.
“The location of the Kingsley will overnight reinvent the Civic Precinct. Guest staying in the luxury hotel will now be within just 100 metres walk of the Civic Theatre, The Newcastle Art Gallery, The Newcastle Museum and the Civic Playhouse. The existence of a five-star hotel complete with a light rail station immediately across from it, will finally create the thriving cultural precinct our city has longed for," the Lord Mayor said.
"I applaud Crystalbrook's vision in re-imagining the CAC's brutalist architecture. Reviewing their plans and renders, their vision for the building is an ideal adaptive reuse. In the space of less than two years, Newcastle will have a building that is both iconic and luxurious.
"Today’s sale is also a win for tourism, the University's inner-city expansion plans, and the neighboring justice precinct and nearby Darby Street businesses,” the Lord mayor said.
City of Newcastle CEO Jeremy Bath said the sale would generate new investment momentum.
"Following the expression of interest process that involved two separate rounds, we have delivered for ratepayers an exceptional result. Indeed, we have delivered the best of both worlds, a financial sale well beyond our valuation of the building which will also generate a significant number of jobs," Mr Bath said.
“Just as the hotel will boost the Civic and Honeysuckle, the exodus of bureaucrats to the West End in August will lend impetus to plans to make it the new CBD, next to the Newcastle Interchange.
“As part of associated plans, Birdwood Park and Parry Street West will be overhauled as Newcastle's new civic centre and Wickham will be overhauled as part of a detailed Masterplan by the City,” he said.
Crystalbrook Collection CEO Mark Davie said he was thrilled to partner with the City on the historic project.
“There’s really nothing like this building, it has a strong identity and connection to the city of Newcastle. I see a lot of potential," Mr Davie said.
“We think the location, with the City Hall, the Civic Theatre, the Art Gallery and the War Memorial Cultural Centre right on the doorstep, makes it a perfect location for a five-star hotel.”
Mr Davie said he had been watching Newcastle’s growth in recent years and felt strongly that Crystalbrook Collection should become a contributor to its future economic success.
The name Kingsley follows a naming convention by which Crystalbrook gives each of its hotels a gender-neutral name and its own unique personality.
Kingsley is also an historical allusion to the City's early name of 'Kingstown', which dates back to 1804.