Bringing life back to Adelaide’s heritage buildings

Around Adelaide’s city centre there are a number of older buildings that are not currently in use and provide a real opportunity to restore some of Adelaide’s heritage while putting the buildings to effective use. Here are a few of the buildings that are currently unused for various reasons. Some of them have plans for renovation and reuse while others are not currently part of any plan and continue to deteriorate.

Electra House

Electra House is a heritage listed three level building on King William Street opposite the Adelaide Town Hall. Constructed in 1901, it was previously used as offices for the transcontinental telegraph line and insurance companies before falling into disrepair. The building has recently been cleaned up by volunteer groups including Renew Adelaide as part of its makeover for the new home of Tuxedo Cat venue for the duration of the Adelaide Fringe festival.

In the long term, the building has been planned as part of an entertainment facility including a bar and a restaurant as part of the City Central development but it is not known when or if this will take place. This will constructed over the site of the former Criterion Hotel as well. This site, adjacent to Electra House, has been empty since the Criterion was demolished in 2006.

The planned redevelopment of Electra House into bars and restaurants. (Source: Aspen Group)

 

Electra House in early 2011.

Gawler Chambers

Constructed in 1909 and extended to its present form in 1914, this heritage listed four level building sits on the corner of Gawler Place and North Terrace. For more than five years, it has remained empty and a lifeless spot on a premier boulevarde (North Terrace) that has gone through an extensive makeover in recent years. In late February, a plan to retain the building’s facade and construct a 13 level office building with ground floor retail in its place have been announced. If all goes to plan, it will be completed and in use by 2015.

The planned office building and retail concept for Gawler Chambers. (Source: Studio LFA)

Gawler Chambers in late 2010.

Colonial Mutual Life Building

Constructed in 1932 and extended in 1934, this 12 level building was the tallest building in Adelaide upon completion, a title it held for over 35 years. It was previously an office building, but currently sits and serves as an empty oversized bus shelter at the corner of King William and Hindley Streets.

There are plans to refit the building for use as a hotel. It is not known when this will commence or be completed.

The CML Building awaiting renovation in early 2011.

The Gallerie

Of the buildings listed in this post, this one is probably the most run down of the lot. The Gallerie Building was formerly a retail arcade which ran from North Terrace to Gawler Place and closed in the late 1990s when the former John Martins department store next door closed and was demolished. No known plans to redevelop the building or arcade have currently been proposed.

The Gallerie, all empty and boarded up, in late 2010.

There are a number of other significant heritage listed buildings that are currently not used. They include the former Bank of New South Wales on the corner of King William Street and North Terrace and the Tattersall’s Building on Grenfell Street. There’s plenty of opportunities for redevelopment as demonstrated by the clever plans for Gawler Chambers, but these have often been declared unviable because of restrictions on the use of the heritage listed buildings. Where there’s a will there’s likely to be a way.

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