Clifton's Imperial Hotel has been brought back to life with the scaffolding down and the finishing touches being put on, with the historic pub nearly ready to open its doors to the public.
Left derelict and abandoned for more than a decade, it was the Shellharbour Workers Club who took the reigns from WIN Corporation in 2015 and decided to polish the rough diamond.
Their plans originally split the community, with many welcoming the makeover of the dilapidated building though some residents expressed concerns over noise, height, traffic and parking.
After two years of construction and scaffolding, the former hotel is prepping to open as an all-day cafe/restaurant and venue.
It has retained plenty of heritage features in the facelift such as ornate ceiling roses, brick fireplaces, the reinstatement of a front verandah, and scenes of yesteryear painted across the walls by South Coast artist Simon Thomas of Chalk Talk.
Mr Thomas has created two giant murals inside the venue - one of a street scape and another of former licensee Jack Hargrave and others - taking around 126 hours of manpower to complete.
"What was difficult about [the latter was] those people were actual people and their families are still localised, so I really had to nail the facial features," he said.
"Because I don't really want [relatives] coming and saying 'that doesn't look like uncle Charlie'."
Mr Thomas is one of the lucky few who have seen the extensive renovations from the inside, and said it looks "spectacular".
The Imperial was the second pub for the mining village Clifton and originally established by Henry and Mary Kane as a single-story timber structure in the 1880's.
Reschs Brewery Limited bought the hotel at auction in 1910 and demolished it to make way for the two-storey design we know of today, built in 1911.
It's served many ales over the decades to coal miners, northern Illawarra residents and Sydney tourists, with many tales to tell.
In late 2003, the Imperial was forced to close - a landslide that caused the closure of Lawrence Hargrave Drive (and the subsequent construction of the Sea Cliff Bridge) for three years was the "death knell" for the pub, according to historian Mick Roberts.
"In the '90s and early 2000s it had already seen it's heyday, it wasn't at it's best," Mr Roberts said, who was excited for the new lease on life but said it won't be a "pub as we once knew it".
"I'm pleased to see it used again. It's better being used as a hospitality venue rather than sitting there falling apart like the old Denmark Hotel [on Larwence Hargrave Drive] in Bulli."
The landmark hotel was bought by the Shellharbour club from the WIN Corporation in 2015 after its $1.925 million bid failed to pass reserve at an auction.
Plans put to Wollongong Council in 2018 stated the venue's capacity would be for 290 people plus a car park accommodating 35 car spaces, 12 bicycle spots and five motorbike spaces.