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"Traditional" eight-storey hotel replaces Whitmore Square eco concept

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A development originally proposed to be Adelaide’s first eco-hotel has been scrapped for a “boutique hotel,” with two local heritage-listed properties set to be demolished to make way for the new building.

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The new proposal replaces plans for a development pitched as Adelaide’s first eco-hotel, called Hotel Ivaritji.

Located adjacent to Whitmore Square, at 174-180 Wright Street, two 1895 heritage-listed villas will be demolished to make way for the yet-to-be-named hotel when construction gets underway later this year.

Earlier this month, Adelaide City Council received the “staged building rules consent” for the “demolition of existing structure, earthworks and construction of a two-storey mixed-use building”.

A council spokesperson said it was waiting on the State Commission Assessment Panel to ensure “any outstanding conditions” had been satisfied before granting final development approval.

The new development is set to comprise an eight-storey hotel and a mixed-use two-storey section.

Shelf company Whitmore Holdings is behind the new build. The company has also worked on 91 Commercial Road in Port Adelaide and is involved in a development in the Tonsley Innovation District.

Whitmore Holdings project manager Nicholas Murphy said the development next to Sparkke at the Whitmore had been due to begin early in 2020 but had to be pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He said construction was now set for mid-year.

South Australian-based architecture firm Troppo designed the original $11-million eco-concept hotel with external cladding to resemble the fur skin cloak of Kaurna ancestor Ivaritji.

The firm was granted building approval for the development from the state’s development commission in 2014 – despite opposition from Adelaide City Council over the demolition of the two heritage villas.

But Troppo did not proceed with the plans for the initial eight-storey project, telling InDaily the concept was not viable.

The property was subsequently sold to Whitmore Holdings for about $2.32 million in 2017.

Murphy said an increase in hotel rooms from 23 to 49 would help with the project’s financial viability, aided by a move away from the former eco-vision to a more “traditional hotel” featuring some environmentally elements, such as solar panels.

On the west side of the hotel there will be two townhouses and a “shoptop” comprising of a double-storey building with an apartment on the top floor and office at street level.

Murphy said the heritage-listed buildings were “fairly dilapidated” and would be demolished to make way for the new property.

He said while the boutique hotel would include a café and mezzanine on the ground floor as originally designed, a previously planned “edible” rooftop garden had been scrapped.

“It’s still fairly organic and raw with a lot of concrete elements,” Murphy said.

“Essentially they had a building with no air conditioning or anything, so although they had managed their heat-load one way we just felt, for us, for it to stack up we had to get more motel rooms.

“We’ve tried to keep it a well-designed eco-building, although it’s harder to incorporate some of those original principles.”

He declined to comment on whether the former Aboriginal design and name would be incorporated.

The new development is being designed by Intro Architecture firm and will be run by La Loft Apartments.

La Loft general manager Simon O’Callaghan said the Wright Street hotel was “an exciting development, contemporary in design” and would feature a “unique food and wine theme”.

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