The 19th-century Treasury Building faces an undecided future. (Tasmanian Heritage and Archives Office)
Hobart’s historic Treasury Buildings would not be suitable for a hotel development, according to a former state architect and heritage specialist.
Treasurer Peter Gutwein announced in this year’s budget the Government would move to sell the complex, saying it would be better used as a hotel instead of its current use as office space.
It has been widely expected to be snapped up by a hotel developer, given the city’s booming popularity among tourists and shortage of accommodation.
But former state architect and heritage specialist Graeme Corney said it wouldn’t work as a hotel.
Mr Corney told Sarah Gillman on ABC Radio Hobart the collection of buildings had too many entrances.
“It just doesn’t work. There are eight separate buildings with seven major entrances,” he said.
“Its best purpose would be as a multi-use building.”
Mr Corney says the Treasury Building is a time capsule for 19th-century architecture. (ABC News: Jack Tegg)
Mr Corney said he would like the buildings to still be used for government services but also as an art gallery and a place to showcase Tasmanian produce and history.
He suggested the 1858 court house, opposite St David’s Cathedral, could be used for historical theatre productions.
“I see a clever overall manager of that site being able to bring together both state government occupation with private enterprise and have it as a vibrant centre for Tasmanian products,” he said.
“I don’t think the Government will get any hotelier interest in taking over the whole site.”
Tasmania’s heritage was one of the attractions that lured the 1.3 million tourists to the state last year.
19th-century ‘time capsule’
The Treasury is Australia’s oldest continuously occupied government building, having been used for almost 200 years.
Roads around the complex were laid out by surveyor James Meehan in 1811, with the main facade facing onto Franklin Square.
It’s flanked by Davey and Macquarie streets, with Murray Street at the rear.
“It also has the oldest courthouse in the country,” Mr Corney said.
The courthouse was the first building constructed at the site, in 1824.
The court house was the first building constructed at the site, in 1824. (Tasmanian Heritage and Archives Office)
A second courthouse was built later due to noise.
The complex also houses the Executive Council building which hosted cabinet meetings as recently as 1992.
The collection of buildings showcases the work of various colonial architects including John Lee Archer.
“It’s a history of government administration in the colony from 1824 onwards,” Mr Corney said.
“It’s a time capsule of the 19th century and early parts of the 20th century.”
Governor Ernest Clark meets with the executive council in 1933. (Tasmanian Heritage and Archives Office)
A public petition with 1,674 signatures has called on the Government to keep the property in state ownership.
In the past the buildings had been estimated to be worth $20 million but it’s expected a sale would bring in a lot more than that.
According to the Treasury website, it is “implementing a multi-stage process to divest the buildings, commencing with a detailed due diligence phase”.