ERROL Stewart's proposed conversion of the Invermay grain silos into an 11-storey hotel is a clever compromise over his original tower proposal, and a concept already tried and proven in Hobart's historical Salamanca Place.
In the 1980s the state government had a feasibility study done on demolition of the old grain silos on Hobart's waterfront, but found the implosions or explosions would have damaged the fragile stability of historical Salamanca Place. Instead, developers converted the silos into modern hotel accommodation, and they look great.
Mr Stewart's Invermay conversion would not greatly change the shape of the silos but add a restaurant and conference centre on top. This is a $10million great idea, that opens up an industrial area while making modern use of a derelict eyesore, just as they did in Hobart. It's a no-brainer. A prudent compromise between our industrial past and our future.
The silos development will provide much-needed construction jobs and their spinoff benefits, and then service industry jobs when completed. You can't dine out on the past. An abandoned 11-storey eyesore from a previous era will do nothing for a modern city, or put food on anyone's table, even in a city priding itself on its heritage. The silos won't produce income and will just sit there as a costly burden, probably costing millions of dollars, just to dismantle eventually.
If there is a heritage footnote to the silos, it is doubtful that any government would waste money on its preservation. It would be way down the heritage priority list. While the original tower proposal had some doubters, the mark 2 conversion of the silos ought to be supported as a development of something that is already there, and still in all its former glory.
Henty House is a terrible eyesore, and yet it got past the city planners of the day, while remembered now only for its aptly named "Brutalist" design. If Henty House can get a guernsey in Launceston, then Errol Stewart's grain silos conversion ought to get a medal.