Three years after the Guildford Hotel was gutted by fire, shops and markets have been proposed to complement the landmark’s redevelopment.
Owners Luke and Dominic Martino plan to erect a separate commercial structure behind the hotel, comprising four specialty shops and a large fresh food market.
At a recent community meeting, Project Manager Jeff Braddock said the market and shops would promote economic growth and provide goods and services not already available in Guildford.
“It’s about trying to put [goods and services] in there that are under-represented or not represented at all in the Guildford area,” Mr Braddock said.
President of the Guildford Association Ben Allen told the meeting the community was anxious for the original facade and belvedere of the 126-year-old building to be restored exactly as they were.
“The community is obviously concerned, and it’s ironic that this week is the third anniversary of the fire, but we are very pleased to see progress, and if we get an exact replica of what the building was, I personally would be very happy,” Mr Allen said.
Many locals expressed concerns about the level of damage sustained by the building in the years since the fire.
Guildford resident and former council member Christine Hughes said she was not confident the building was being appropriately maintained.
“We don’t have the confidence that the building is being looked after with the level of care that goes with a commitment to restoration. .. you simply don’t leave what you value in the rain,” Mrs Hughes said of the now-roofless building.
Mrs Hughes said limited parking onsite and in the surrounding town was a potential issue in developing the hotel.
“Parking is a nightmare,” she said.
“We have 19 public bays in Guildford, that’s all.”
However, Mr Braddock said traffic consultants had determined the 20 bays in the plans would be viable given non-car transport options in the area.
“It’s not just about how many cars we can get on site, it’s also about whether people will walk to that site, how many will catch public transport…and what car parks are available in a greater range,” he said.
Mr Allen said he was pleased the project appeared to be advancing.
“If there hadn’t been so much community pressure, I’m sure the hotel would have been knocked down, so it’s a win, definitely,” he said.