SOMETHING is rumbling inside the old Mercury building in Hobart’s Macquarie St.
Behind its signature art deco exterior, the empty newsrooms and long-silent printing halls are being transformed into restaurants, art galleries and a creative industries hub that will give it new life.
Arts patron Penny Clive, who with husband Bruce Neill bought the building and surrounding structures from Davies Brothers this year, said maintaining the site’s industrial heritage was at the top of their priorities.
“This is just amazing for us, because they are just the most amazing set of buildings sitting untouched right in the middle of Hobart,” Ms Clive said.
“It just offers us in the arts so many opportunities to interact with these spaces.
“We plan to work within the core industrial past, and I hope it eventually turns into an arts think-tank for Tasmania.”
Where printing presses once rumbled into the night in the main building’s basement, a 60-seat restaurant is taking shape, designed by architect Ryan Strating and headed up by award-winning Peppermint Bay chef David Moyle.
In the next room, Hobart’s Detached Cultural Association will make its new home alongside gallery space for exhibitions.
Upstairs, Dark Mofo creative director Leigh Carmichael will develop the project’s creative hub. He said the hub would grow to include industries including design, architecture, festivals, advertising, visual and performing arts and new media, helping put Hobart at the forefront of creativity in Australia.
Overseeing progress on site yesterday, Ms Clive revealed a secret weapon behind the transformation: former Mercury electrician Dean Ware.
Mr Ware spent more than two decades getting to know the building’s nooks, crannies and quirks.
“Dean has been such a key person in the development of the building, because he brings a connection to the past,” Ms Clive said.