‘Travesty’: King’s Head Hotel high-rise tower stalls

The state heritage-listed King’s Head Hotel and former live music venue on King William Street sits empty and “degrading” with its rear demolished, as work on a 16-storey tower behind it appears to have stalled.

Jun 27, 2024, updated Jun 27, 2024
The rear of the King's Head Hotel and a signboard of the proposed development covered in graffiti. Photo: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily

The rear of the King's Head Hotel and a signboard of the proposed development covered in graffiti. Photo: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily

The circa-1870s pub on the corner of King William and Sturt Street shut its doors on April 30, 2023, to allow construction of a 16-storey hotel under the “Ramada by Wyndham” brand.

The project was granted planning approval in July 2022, with the developers saying at the time they would begin work on the new tower around January 2024. A variation to the plan was granted planning consent in July 2023.

King's Head Hotel

The current state of the King’s Head Hotel with its rear additions demolished. Photo: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily

King's Head Hotel development

The proposed 16-storey tower slated for behind the King’s Head Hotel. Image: Ramada by Wyndham/supplied

The new hotel is meant to open in December 2024, according to a message posted on the windows of the King’s Head Hotel.

But little work has been completed on the site other than the demolition of the state heritage listed pub’s two-storey rear wing.

InDaily visited the site on Wednesday to find graffiti covering the signboards, cracked windows and the pub’s rear in a poor state.

King's Head Hotel rear

The current state of the rear of the state heritage listed King’s Head Hotel

King's Head door

One of the doorways to the King’s Head Hotel, which has been damaged. Photo: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily

David Beattie, who lives behind the King’s Head, said he has not seen any work take place there for more than 12 months.

“It’s degrading quite fast,” he said.

“You can observe that degradation. The problem is also that you’ve got pigeons moving into the building, and that’s going to cause more problems internally.”

Beattie two years ago organised a petition against the 16-storey tower, citing concerns about overshadowing, noise and parking.

“My big objection was you knock it down and then it sits there vacant,” he said.

“There’s nothing to really push the buildings forward to make sure they’re constructed.”

King's Head Hotel

The rear additions to the King’s Head Hotel were demolished last year to make way for a 16-storey tower. Photo: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily

The rear of the King’s Head Hotel pre-demolition. Image: Google Maps

Proponents of the 16-storey tower repeatedly stated their intention to keep the King’s Head operating as a live music venue and “reinvigorate” its social offering, despite concerns it would go the same way of other once-thriving Adelaide music pubs targeted by inner-city apartment developments.

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Beattie raised fears that the situation could be similar to what has happened to the nearby Hotel Wright Street, formerly the Queens Arms Hotel.

The southern CBD pub has been deteriorating since it was shut down in 2016 and targeted for a yet-to-materialise 18-storey office development.

“It would be possible to reactivate the (King’s Head) site, but I don’t see a 16-storey building going up,” he said.

“And in the meantime, the signboards are just getting graffitied and the site just looks worse and worse.

“It’s a travesty.”

InDaily has attempted to reach King’s Head Hotel owner Patrick Marcucci for comment.

Construction company Catcorp and development consultants Future Urban are no longer involved in the project, both firms told InDaily, after helping to secure planning consent in 2022.

InDaily also reached out to architecture firm Tectvs and hotel management company 1834 Hotels. Both firms are listed as involved parties on a signboard outside the pub.

King's Head project

A graffitied list of project managers outside the King’s Head Hotel. Photo: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily

The most recent post from the King’s Head Hotel’s Facebook page was on June 29, 2023. It states: “December 2024 is the anticipated re-opening date for the revamped hotel to become the Ramada by Wyndham Kings Head Hotel.”

“We will keep you posted with regular updates. Our builder has now taken possession of the premises and demolition of the non-historical rear section of the pub will occur over the coming weeks.”

The developers had applied to close part of the road behind the King’s Head from July 28, 2023, to December 17, 2024, to “allow for a loading bay to service the King’s Head Hotel Redevelopment”.

But Beattie said the road was only closed for one week last year and has been open ever since.

King's Head Hotel

The boarded-up frontage of the state heritage listed King’s Head Hotel. Photo: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily

The King’s Head Hotel was built in 1876 and was previously an active live music venue on Friday and Saturday nights, even hosting a DJ performance from now-Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

The pub was also once the stomping ground for the original 1960s line up of iconic Australian rock group, The Masters Apprentices, which rehearsed in the pub’s back shed. The group performed a farewell gig at the venue the night before it shut its doors.

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