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Lord Mayor calls for at-risk art deco building to be state heritage-protected

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Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor has called on the Adelaide City Council to support the proposed state heritage-listing of a King William Street art deco building that is at risk of demolition to make way for what could be one of Adelaide’s biggest office towers.

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InDaily reported last month that Australian developer Charter Hall had lodged plans with the State Commission Assessment Panel (SCAP) to replace the Southern Cross Arcade and neighbouring Sands and McDougall building with a 15-storey office tower.

The proposed new building, designed by Cox Architecture, would include 40,000 square-metres of above-ground office space and 3000 square-metres of retail on the ground floor, with the site extending from King William Street through to James Place, making it one of the biggest office towers in Adelaide if it is approved.

The nineteenth century Sands and McDougall building, remodelled in the 1930s, was formerly used as a printing press and its external form and front-facing art deco detailing are local heritage-listed.

In August, one month after Charter Hall lodged its plans with the SCAP, the SA Heritage Council decided to provisionally list the Sands and McDougall building as a state heritage place, describing its “highly intact” front façade of coloured cement, copper panels and metal grilles as an “outstanding and early example of art deco architecture in South Australia”.

However, the Heritage Council is still waiting to confirm the provisional listing, with a public consultation due to wrap up on November 24.

The decision to grant the building provisional state heritage status leaves Charter Hall’s plans in limbo, with the total demolition of listed places not normally permitted under heritage laws.

A State Government planning spokesperson told InDaily last month that Charter Hall had placed its development application “on hold” but had not withdrawn its plans.

Verschoor has lodged a motion for Tuesday’s Adelaide City Council meeting requesting that the council provide a submission to the Heritage Council “that speaks in support” of the Sands and McDougall building being state heritage-listed.

She told InDaily that the Sands and McDougall building was “one of the very last examples of that art deco architecture in Adelaide” and the city was “in danger of just not having any of those incredible heritage offerings”.

“If the listing is going to protect it then we need to make sure that it’s heritage-listed and we need to make sure that the Minister understands why we want it protected,” she said.

“I need a council decision so I can speak on behalf of all council about our support of the provisional listing.

“It’s already local heritage-listed within the Adelaide City Development Plan, so this is to support the provisional listing by the South Australian Heritage Council.”

The original art deco heritage features on the Sands and McDougall building. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Verschoor said she had already discussed the matter with the Heritage Council and would meet with Environment Minister David Speirs next week.

The council’s administration is yet to respond to Verschoor’s motion, but place director Klinton Devenish told InDaily last month that the council would not support the demolition of the building at 64 King William Street – regardless of whether its provisional state heritage listing is confirmed.

He said the council’s senior heritage architect had reviewed Charter Hall’s plans and advised that the proposal “fails to meet the requirements of the development plan that seek the retention and conservation of listed heritage places, and the incorporation of these heritage places into future development”.

He said the Sands and McDougall building’s integrity was considered “high”.

A render of the proposed 15-storey office tower planned for 60 King William Street. Image: Charter Hall

“The proposed development fails to adequately justify demolition of the heritage place, nor does it address any of the fundamental objectives or principles of development control within the development plan which address retention, conservation and reuse of the city’s heritage assets,” he said.

“The demolition of the Sands and McDougall building, whether it be a local heritage place or state heritage place is not supported.”

Anyone, including Charter Hall, can make a “for or against” submission to the Heritage Council as part of the public consultation to confirm the Sands and McDougall building’s state heritage listing.

Charter Hall’s regional development director Simon Stockfeld told The Advertiser last month that the company hoped to start construction on the tower early next year, with completion scheduled for the middle of 2023.

“We’ve been through the pre-lodgement process and it’s been a good consultative process with the State Government and Adelaide City Council, to put forward a fantastic redevelopment for this site,” he was quoted.

But Verschoor said she was yet to discuss the proposal with Charter Hall.

Southern Cross Arcade, which was built in the 1970s at the site of the former Southern Cross Hotel, houses a food court and retail outlets and is not heritage-listed.

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