Work begins on $32 million upgrade of historic Campbell’s Stores building in The Rocks

Image JPW Architects

Work has begun on transforming Campbell’s Stores, one of the country’s oldest warehouse buildings, into a high-end dining and entertainment precinct.

The 1839 building in The Rocks in Sydney has been a well-known restaurant and tourist destination for almost 50 years.

The lessee of the building, a consortium known as Tallawoladah Pty Ltd, has engaged architecture group JPW to head the $32 million upgrade.

What the building will look like after the renovation.

“We are close to signing a number of high-profile restaurants from both Australia and internationally for leases, which will transform this precinct into a stunning waterfront fine-dining and entertainment destination,” Tallawoladah’s principal, Philip Beauchamp, said.

All four previous restaurant tenants – Waterfront, Wolfies Grill, Italian Village and Imperial Peking – have packed up, but have been given the option to sign on again after the work in complete.

Campbell’s Stores is starting to show signs of its age and the restoration work will reverse the decay of the sandstone walls and parapets and replace the 19th-century roof tiling.

The space will then be split into 12 smaller restaurants and bars, with spaces from 50 square metres to 700 square metres.

One of the most noticeable changes will be the removal of plastic outdoor awnings and to improve the view of the harbour and Opera House.

New lifts will be installed, new amenities and kitchen areas will be added and the Hickson Road frontage will be modified to create better access to The Rocks.

The refurbishment is expected to be completed in late 2018.

Minister for Finance, Services and Property, Victor Dominello, said: “This is a great example of where the Government has been able to partner with a private sector provider to deliver a new world-class visitor destination, whilst also preserving heritage assets and open space.”

According to The Heritage Council of NSW, Campbell’s Cove wharf, on which the warehouse is built, was the first privately owned wharf in Australia. The entire Campbell Cove precinct was valued at £1,200 in 1845.

In the past the area was busy with commercial shipping, but has been operating as restaurants since the 1970s.

In 2015 plans for a ‘glass box’ building for luxury retailers directly next to Campbell’s Stores was announced as part of the revamp, but that plan has been dropped and the site will remain an outdoor dining area.

The ‘glass box’ received a lot of opposition from the community, including from the then heritage minister Mark Speakman who wrote a personal submission against it.

The revamp comes as the whole Circular Quay area will get a facelift worth $3.7 billion including new apartments, offices and hotels.

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