As far as endangered species of the architectural world go, the Maltings at Mittagong was up until last year on the brink of extinction.
The National Trust of Australia listed the 103-year-old former Tooth brewery supply works among its “endangered places of 2000”.
“The whole site is deteriorating through neglect and lack of use,” the trust cited.
“The malting equipment is in place but redevelopment may see it lost without recording.”
Enter Sydney developer Barry Anstee, who somehow scooped the historic property at auction last August for a bargain basement $590,000.
The sum was almost a million dollars less than what a consortium paid 12 months prior.
Some local developers thought he had acquired a 6.5ha dodo, such was the derelict and clumsy state of the property.
But Mr Anstee’s vision is one of resurrection and conservation and he plans to see it through until his (what seems to be a most shrewd) investment becomes a thriving tourist attraction.
He revealed plans are underway to transform the three malting houses, railway station, manager’s residence and other small service buildings into a 50-room hotel, brewery and winery.
He anticipates the site will have a kiosk, tea-room and other attractions.
“We’re trying to get State Rail to give us a train service ... the track’s all there but we keep having phone calls and discussions!” Mr Anstee said.
His team is also working out how to “integrate” the hotel site with a park-like area he acquired nearby as part of the package.
As far as the quality of accommodation, Mr Anstee reckoned it will be “not quite Milton Park and not quite Heritage (Grand Mercure Hotel Bowral Heritage Park)” but pretty comfortable all the same.
“Something like the Briars,” Mr Anstee tipped.
He says it’s hoped the hotel and eatery areas will cater for patrons like those “who frequent The Oaks Hotel (in Neutral Bay) or the Mean Fiddler”, located in Sydney’s Hills district.
Both establishments are highly regarded in Sydney’s social circles and are particularly frequented by under-35s who hail from the professional or corporate ranks.
Mr Anstee said the project is still confined to the very early stages of planning.
He reassured the development would retain the Maltings’ heritage significance.
“We’re not looking to demolish or rebuild,” Mr Ainstee said, adding he is aware of the site’s local cultural and historic significance.
Last month he lodged an application with Wingecarribee Shire Council to subdivide the property into three separate lots.
Council is yet to issue consent but planning staff have indicated they’re prepared to embrace the developer’s grand plan.
“What he wants to do sounds very exciting,” a Council spokesman said.
Mr Anstee says he and Council had so far enjoyed an amicable working relationship.
The Elizabeth Bay-based businessman is behind the recent renovation of the former orphan residence and farm, Hopewood, on Centennial Road that he also owns.
At a Glance
Former Tooth Maltings,
Ferguson Crescent, Mittagong
• Established in 1898 by Sydney businessmen to supply malt breweries throughout NSW
• The first malthouse opened in 1899
• Tooth and Co built two more malthouses in 1905 and 1916
• The Maltings formed an essential part of the supply chain to the company’s Sydney’s breweries until its closure in 1980
• Malthouses 1 and 3 were damaged by fires in 1969 and 1980
• In 1942, a fire gutted malthouse 2, but it was rebuilt in 1953
• The Maltings were purchased in 1999 by a consortium for $1.5 million
• They were then sold to Barry Anstee last year for $590,000