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Erskineville's Swanson Hotel May Be Getting a New Lease on Life

Though a simple pub reno isn't all that's being proposed for the 1930s pub.
By Marissa Ciampi
April 24, 2018
By Marissa Ciampi
April 24, 2018

Inner west locals may have noticed that Erskineville's Swanson Hotel closed back in mid-2017. The team behind Newtown's Gurdys noticed this too, and it's signed on to give the corner pub a new lease on life. A full interior renovation plans to return the venue to its former glory as a beloved community watering hole.

"Gurdys is very much a community-focused venue and we like the idea of locals running the business for locals," says Brett Davis, who co-owns Gurdys with his wife Clare. The two live in the area and also have young children, and very much want to see the pub revamped into a new go-to joint for families. They also plan to reinstate the pub's original name — Kurrajong Hotel — which it was called from the time it was built in the 1930s up until the 80s.

"For us, the renaming is about respecting the heritage of the venue and taking back to the community spot that it was," says Davis. "A lot of people had good connections with the Kurrajong, ourselves included, but the pub lost its way for a while and we want to bring that back."

To this end, the building's external facade, some internal tiling and other heritage aspects will be preserved, but the interior ground floor will be otherwise gutted, and a brand new bar, kitchen and bathroom will be installed. "The bar layout is not functional at the moment and we couldn't make it a profitable business the way it is," says Davis.

The pair's focus on locality will also be found in the menu across the food and booze offerings. The pub menu is still in the works, but, like Gurdys, patrons can expect house-made over store-bought.

But as good as a reinvigorated community pub sounds, unfortunately it's not the end of the story. According to this development application submitted to the City of Sydney and this report by Commercial Real Estate, the building's developer Eastern Property Alliance has also proposed to convert the existing top floor into a new three-level apartment complex. The $2.9 million redevelopment would turn the building into a five-storey mixed-use building with the pub on the ground floor and ten apartments above.

Though the apartments are on a separate DA from the pub (and therefore are entirely separate works), major push-back has come from the community via the Love Erskineville Facebook group. The group is more specifically opposing the apartment extension plans, which will see a stark and modern update to the upper facade of the building, though the existing facade will be maintained. The group wants the council to place an interim heritage order on the site, which is not currently heritage-listed. This order will stop any construction on the site for 12 months while the building undergoes a full heritage assessment, which effects any changes made to the pub as well.

Submissions closed on April 12 and we have a feeling the decision must be close, as both Eastern Property Alliance representative Simon Quinn and Friends of Erskineville committee member Isabel McIntosh declined to comment on the DA. If the interim heritage order is declined, it looks like the pub will go ahead and plans to open by the end of the year. If the order is approved, the pub's renovations plans may be cancelled altogether. We'll be keeping an eye on this space to see where the chips fall.

Image: Google Maps. 

Published on April 24, 2018 by Marissa Ciampi
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