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New focus on stalled Pirie St Hyatt hotel

Developers aiming to replace a vacant CBD heritage building with a high-rise hotel say they’re in the final stages of drafting new plans for the site, after years of delays.

Jan 15, 2024, updated Jan 15, 2024
Planning approval remains in place for a 21-storey hotel project (inset) at 51 Pirie Street. Photo: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily; inset image: CEL Australia/GHD Woodhead

Planning approval remains in place for a 21-storey hotel project (inset) at 51 Pirie Street. Photo: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily; inset image: CEL Australia/GHD Woodhead

Robert Lee, executive director of developers CEL Australia, told InDaily that he is committed to providing an update in the second quarter of 2024 about the Hyatt Regency Adelaide project.

The long-mooted hotel is slated for the corner of Pirie Street and Gawler Place, where the former Bank of South Australia building is located.

An artist’s impression of the 21-storey Hyatt Hotel project, approved in 2020. Image: CEL Australia/GHD Woodhead

The former state bank building at 51 Pirie Street was to be demolished under the most recent plans. Photo: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily

The developers were granted planning approval in April 2019 to demolish the vacant local heritage listed building and build a 28-storey, 295-room hotel.

Construction was initially scheduled to begin in early 2020 and finish in early 2023.

But no work has taken place on the site and the five-storey heritage building has remained dilapidated and vacant.

State bank building

The interior of the former state bank building on Pirie Street (picture Friday, January 12). Photos: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily

Delays to the project were revealed in February 2020, after which the hotel was downsized to 21-storeys and 285-rooms.

Further delays were revealed in November 2021, prompting the developers to apply to extend their planning approval for a further two years until 2024.

Planning consent for the project is due to expire on August 26 this year.

Lee said in a texted statement that they are now in “the final stages of refining the development plan” and intend to make an announcement in the second quarter of this year.

Asked why there had been so many delays, Lee said: “Like many projects, we have encountered challenges in the current post-pandemic landscape.”

Hyatt Hotel development

The 21-storey, 93-metre-tall tower was given planning approval in August 2020. Left image: ARUP; right image: CEL Australia and GHD Woodhead

“Factors such as disruptions in the supply chain and fluctuating material availability have influenced our timeline,” he said.

“We are committed to delivering a high standard product, thus navigating these challenges has required careful consideration and alternative approaches.

“Rest assured, we remain dedicated to keeping the public informed and will provide an update in Q2, 2024.”

Hyatt Regency

A ground level of view of the 2020 plans. Image: CEL Australia/GHD Woodhead

The Hyatt Regency Adelaide project is a collaboration between a Hyatt affiliate and CEL Australia, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Singapore-listed Chip Eng Seng Corporation.

The Hyatt brand has been absent from Adelaide since 2009 when the former Hyatt on North Terrace was rebranded as the Intercontinental.

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The Pirie Street site for the new Hyatt has no height limit under the planning code.

The most recent 21-storey plan approved by the State Commission Assessment Panel (SCAP) in August 2020 stood at 93.8-metres tall.

It was to include a sky bar and restaurant on the 21st floor, hotel rooms from level seven to 20, a gym on level six and a ballroom and event space on level two.

Hyatt Hotel skybar

The skybar planned for the top floor of the 21-storey development. Image: CEL Australia/GHD Woodhead

A lobby and bar were also planned for the ground level along with meeting and conference rooms on the first floor.

The development initially generated controversy over the demolition of the local heritage-listed bank building

Adelaide City Council administration opposed demolition of the building, which was built in 1927 and most recently housed an office supplies store.

However, former government planning officer Will Gormly advised the SCAP in 2019 that the heritage building underwent a “substantial redevelopment” in the 1980s which “diminished the integrity of its original heritage value”.

The building’s Gawler Place façade was also replaced with a “brutal concrete express-form addition”, Gormley said, with only the Pirie Street façade representative of the era of construction.

The developers said they tried to retain the Pirie Street façade in the project’s design but were told by consultants that it “just wouldn’t work”.

InDaily attempted to reach the Hyatt Group for comment.

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