New rooftop bar and nightclub proposed for the Illawarra Hotel

The Illawarra Hotel has revealed plans to refurbish and expand, turning the disused middle floor of the heritage pub into a new nightclub and rooftop bar.

In an application to Wollongong City Council, the Illawarra Hotel Company Pty Ltd is seeking permission for an internal refit of the 1938 Keira Street building.

The ground floor of the pub, which has been used as a hotel with gaming, a dance floor, bar and beer garden would be reconfigured, with the dance are becoming a dining area.

A small outdoor seating area lining Market Street is also proposed, along with a refurbished kitchen and new staircase linking to the first floor.

On the first floor, the hoteliers plan to demolish some of the walls dividing the old hotel guest rooms to create a nightclub with a bar and lounge area. An existing roof deck would become a beer garden, with a new roof proposed for this area.

An image of the original pub from a heritage consultant's report included with the new proposal. Picture: Urbis.

An image of the original pub from a heritage consultant's report included with the new proposal. Picture: Urbis.

The club is proposed to operate until 3am three nights a week, and until 2am on Wednesdays, with the area only accessible after permission from security.

The new rooftop bar, and the ground floor pub and dining area, would open seven nights a week, the plans say. 

The second storey would become office space, with some of the partition walls between the old hotel rooms demolished to make larger office premises.

The pub is a locally listed heritage item, recognised for its elaborately patterned facade and as being built in the “inter war free classical style”.

It was built by prolific Sydney-based architects, who also built the Criterion Hotel in Pitt Street and the Australian Hotel in Chippendale.

The Criterion Hotel on Pitt Street in Sydney. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

The Criterion Hotel on Pitt Street in Sydney. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

In January 1939, the hotel had 44 bedrooms, electric lights, hot and cold water in every room and was carpeted. It also had a public bar and parlour space and a separate lavatory block, and was promoted it as the newest and most modern hotel on the South Coast.

A heritage report has recommended the council impose conditions to ensure the heritage character of the pub remains.

This includes keeping the decorative brickwork, the tiles to the ground floor facade, timber windows, bathrooms in the first and second floor and the internal joinery like stairs and doors.

The report notes that “little original fabric” was kept during the alternations carried out between 1995 and 2004, but says the first and second floors remain “largely intact” with a significant amount of original late-1930s material. 

It also says “the original character of the upper floors would remain legible” with the proposed refurbishment, which supports the historic use of “leisure and gathering”.

The proposal is open for comment until August 10.