IT’s the end of an era and the start of an exciting new one as The Northern Daily Leader moves out of its iconic Tamworth building and into a state-of-the-art office.
The historic complex, built in 1925 at the corner of Brisbane and Marius streets, will get a $1 million refit with new residential apartments, offices and a basement wine bar if council gives approval.
Fairfax’s Tamworth-based operations – The Leader, Tamworth Times, The Land, Domain and Fairfax Rural Events – are moving around the corner to the Rabobank building, 27 Bourke St, and will be in the new premises from Monday.
A development application lodged with Tamworth Regional Council for The Leader building seeks approval for a new fifth floor of residential apartments, and a wine bar and restaurant in the basement that once housed the presses.
Mark, Peter and Hala Sleiman have bought the property as directors of Lionheart Property Development.
Mark Sleiman said he didn’t want to comment on the plans for the site ahead of council considering the application.
However, he indicated Lionheart would respect and enhance the historic nature of the building.
“It’s such a gorgeous building and it’s a piece of Tamworth history,” Mr Sleiman said.
The DA describes a two-stage development, with stage one including alterations to the fourth level and the addition of a fifth level for residential apartments. The plan for the second and third levels is for commercial space.
Stage two plans would see the north-western side of the building separated out and refurbished, and the basement become a restaurant and wine bar. The exterior of the building will be restored and repainted.
The new home for Fairfax is a custom-designed, open-plan office which will bring the company’s Tamworth operations under one roof for the first time and showcase the new direction of media.
New England business manager Jason King said the new office was a “fantastic new home” and a vote of confidence for the future of Fairfax in the area.
“Our staff will benefit from a purpose-designed workplace with access to state-of-the-art technology,” Mr King said.
Group managing editor Juanita Greville said the “enthusiastic and energetic staff” were looking forward to working “in a modern environment that reflects the emerging face of media”.
“In the past year, our digital numbers have doubled as we’ve covered stories such as uranium in water supplies, campaigned for a judge in the bush and introduced Facebook live streaming to bring local events to our readers as they happen,” Ms Greville said. “It’s an exciting time to be in the news business.”
Group sales manager Ian George said the move was another chapter in the Leader’s evolution.
“We are premium partners with Google, and our fully trained and award-winning sales professionals are building even more meaningful relationships with our customers through our three verticals of print, digital marketing and website creation,” Mr George said.