Historic Kodak signage could be removed from 100-year-old building in Hobart’s Elizabeth St Mall

A landmark of Hobart’s Elizabeth Street Mall could be transformed if the city’s council approves a plan to turn the Kodak House building into apartments, but there is concern about the loss of the building’s existing signage.

Last week the Council’s City Planning Committee voted in favour of the application that would allow the removal of Kodak brand signs from the 100-year-old building — against the recommendation of council officers and an independent assessment by a heritage architect.

The application to go before the full council on Monday night is to transform the building, completed in 1920 and listed as a heritage place on the Hobart Interim Planning Scheme, into a shared retail and apartment space, with commercial tenants remaining on the ground floor and five apartments on the levels above.

The plans for the building, lodged by local developers Giameos Constructions and Developments, include the removal of the Kodak House masonry sign at the top of the building, to be replaced with replica comprised of steel letters to allow more light in.

Deputy Lord Mayor Helen Burnet says the replacement of the masonry “Kodak House” sign has caused the most concern.(ABC News: Loretta Lohberger)

Deputy Lord Mayor and planning committee chairwoman Helen Burnet said the removal of the masonry sign from the former photography lab and shop had caused the most concern.

She described the sign, added in 1929, as “iconic”.

She said the sign also helped set Hobart’s Kodak building apart from most other remaining Kodak buildings in Australia.

“In its entirety, I think this is one of two which are still significant and very much as they were in the 1920s,” Cr Burnet said.

A former Kodak shop in Hobart with its historic signage.
The Kodak sign in Hobart’s Elizabeth Street Mall.(ABC News: Kate Ainsworth.)

The masonry sign is not the only Kodak sign that would be removed from the building if the application is approved.

“New side openings” mean the painted Kodak signs and illuminated Kodak light boxes would also be removed.

Helen Burnet smiles at the camera.
Deputy Lord Mayor Helen Burnet says the Kodak House sign is “iconic”.(ABC News: Phoebe Hosier)

A number of conditions for the application’s approval will be heard by the council on Monday night, including a requirement that the painted Kodak signage “must be repainted to the east of the existing sign” and “must match the existing sign in font, dimensions and depth”.

The council will also require the frame of the masonry sign must remain intact to help preserve its historical value.

“Planning schemes aren’t black and white, there is that shade of grey where the majority of the committee has suggested that this will not be too detrimental in relation to the heritage aspects,” Cr Burnet said.

She said the building had been an integral part of the city’s recent history.

“It’s been with so many Tasmanians over so many years, and it tells a story in itself the way that it is, in relation to the development of our city.”

Empty buildings ‘become a danger’

Brendan Lennard, who spent 25 years as a cultural heritage officer with the Hobart City Council before retiring earlier this year, said it could be difficult to balance new developments with maintaining heritage.

Hobart rooftops, including the Kodak House building in April 1977
The Kodak House building (left) in April 1977.(Supplied: Margaret Bryant, Tasmanian Archives.)

“The worst thing that can happen to a building is to be left empty,” Mr Lennard said.

“If they’re left empty for too long, it becomes a danger, they’re not looked after. It’s a bit like if you’ve got a car that no one’s driven for years and years, it becomes very difficult to make it work again,” he said.

“So [I have] no problem with a building being given a new lease of life … but the hard thing about heritage, if you’re making changes to heritage buildings, is not to lose the inherent qualities that actually make a building important.

“It’s all about exploring solutions, working with the building, working with the heritage experts and coming up with solutions.”

Mr Lennard said the preservation of heritage places was part of Tasmania’s appeal.

“Tasmania, and Hobart particularly, has an advantage in that it has a rich heritage of buildings [and] places,” he said.

“It has a rich collection of streetscapes … and when people come to Tasmania, they come with a knowledge of the expectation that Hobart has to offer an authentic experience with a number of fine old buildings and streets.

“The beauty of our built places is part of the thing that attracts people to Tasmania — not only as visitors, but actually attracting people to live here as well.”

Close up of the "Kodak House" sign in Hobart, partially obscured
The masonry “Kodak House” sign was added in 1929.(ABC News: Loretta Lohberger)

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100-year-old heavenly property on the market

A FORMER church which was converted for use as a cafe is now on the market and ready for it’s next heavenly transformation.

Thought to have been built over 100 years ago when it was known as St Paul’s Anglican Church, more recently the property at 3 Alphadale Rd, Lindendale, was home of the Spotted Pig Cafe.

HEAVENLY PROPERTY: A former church built around 100 years ago and recently used as a cafe is now on the market for an undisclosed sum.

Now the property, which is situated on he corner of Bruxner Hwy and Alphadale Rd, Lindendale is on the market for an undisclosed price.

According to RP Data, the 2026 sqm property last changed hands in January 2009 for $625,000.

Featuring a commercial kitchen, polished timbers floors, stained glass windows, lofty ceilings and extensive parking, the property is being marketing by McGrath as being “ideal for a restaurant, cafe, wedding functions, church groups … endless business opportunities in a prime location.”

There is also a one-bedroom loft-style apartment with a private balcony.

Located east of Lismore and west of Alstonville, the property’s prime location gives it high visibility to passing commuter traffic travelling Ballina, Lennox Head and Byron Bay.

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