WORK has began to bring one of Tamworth’s most iconic buildings into the 21st century, while restoring it to its former glory.
Mark Sleiman’s grand plan for the old Northern Daily Leader building is starting to come together, converting three storeys into office space and transforming the basement into a 1920s-themed scotch bar.
The bar will be named ‘The Press’ in honour of The Leader’s printing press, which use to be housed in the building’s basement.
“There are plenty of really good places in Tamworth to eat and there’s a lot of really good pubs to go to, but there is nothing like this,” Mr Sleiman said.
“The demographic for a 1920s jazz scotch bar is anyone – it doesn’t matter if you’re 20 or 50, it’s still cool.”
Mr Sleiman said the bar and office space should be finished by July 1, 2018.
“The way everything is going, the office space could be ready a lot sooner,” he said.
Chief building designer Jodie Farrell said the plan was to retain the character and integrity of the building, which was built in 1925 and is still “very sound” structurally.
“It’s a grand old lady and it’s just been a little bit tired,” Ms Farrell said.
“The building has fantastic bones, beautiful high ceilings, it has the brickwork, which we love.
“For the majority of the building, we’re not really changing anything, we’re just bringing it into the 21st century.”
The building is heritage listed, with the facade and foyer entrance to remain untouched.
“We’ve consulted with council’s heritage adviser and we’ve been given the tick of approval,” Ms Farrell said.
While the iconic facade will remain, its colour will change – the pink and blue will be replaced with white.
Mr Sleiman said the building had been approved for an additional floor, which would house apartments, but for the moment he’s “decided to press pause” on that part of the development.
“We don’t want to compromise the quality of what we’re doing, so we’d rather do the apartments as a stage two,” he said.
The basement and the ground floor have already been leased prior to marketing.
Mr Sleiman expects demand for the remaining spaces – the first and second floor, and the old Rural Press office – will be high.
“It’s an iconic building – there aren’t many cool office spaces where you can say you’ve got French windows looking out to the hills,” he said.
“It’s one of the only privately owned commercial building in Tamworth that is heritage listed. It’s reasonably priced too. We’re encouraging people who are looking for a new office to come and see us at PRD.”