City View Hotel: From a pub to a backpackers
ONE of the city's oldest pubs is about to undergo a transformation that will see it become a busy hotel once more.
For more than two years the City View Hotel on Brisbane St has been closed to the public.
Now new owners have moved in and within two weeks the hotel will reopen - rebranded as a backpackers and low budget accommodation.
It means locals who have been missing their favourite drinking hole will once again be able to knock back a drink in the century-old pub.
The hotel's rich heritage is also a huge draw card for Asian tourists, a market the new owners have already tapped.
Hamish Parker, who has in a Masters in Architecture from Victoria University in Wellington New Zealand, and his family negotiated the sale from a handful of Ipswich locals for less than $1 million - a price Mr Parker couldn't resist for a building with so much potential.
Since taking over about a month ago, Mr Parker has been through 120 tubes of gap filler and countless tins of paint.
New plants have already appeared on the front balcony as part of a 'freshened look' that will also include new lighting and a few licks of paint.
Mr Parker says the City View Hotel has something money can't buy any more in Brisbane - a distinctly Queensland heritage look and a long history.
He's hoping to attract Asian tourists, like the ones who frequent his similar, low budget accommodation in Bowen Hills.
"We were really busy over the EKKA weekend and so had a few people stay here as overflow," Mr Parker said.
"They absolutely loved it. They loved all the heritage buildings in Ipswich and that's why the building itself will be a major selling point for that market."
His vision for targeting a niche Asian market is in line with the State Government's new Asia tourism strategy, released last week.
There has been unprecedented growth in the Asian economy with travellers taking 181 million trips in 2014. That is expected to increase to 286 million by 2020.
By 2025 the state government hopes tourism from Asia will be making a $6.8 billion contribution to Queensland's economy and Mr Parker hopes some of that will flow to Ipswich.
In the coming years Mr Parker will invest millions into the building, which he describes as a hidden gem in a city that should be known as "an unpolished diamond".
There are 13 rooms upstairs at the City View Hotel and two bar areas downstairs.
Mr Parker will transform some of the larger rooms into dormitories and use the downstairs areas as a dining section.
But, he said, members of the public will be welcome to come inside for a look around, an affordable meal and well-priced pint.
Mr Parker is hoping to get the hotel up and running as quickly as possible and says his development, and others like it, will help bring more people into the CBD.
"This really is the perfect spot," Mr Parker said.
"It's close to amenities, it's the gateway to the main street where all the restaurants, cafes and shops are positioned in these amazing heritage buildings.
"We're confident the hotel will appeal to that Asian tourism market."