Smith St hostel set to reopen after major redevelopment

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A design concept drawing for an upgrade to the former Malabar Lodge backpackers hostel in Smith St produced by Savvas Architects.

THE former Malabar Lodge hostel in Darwin’s central business district could soon shake it’s shady reputation with the building’s new owner planning a major upgrade.

A development application submitted to the Planning Department reveals the owner wants to reopen the business as a hostel post-facelift.

If the application is successful, the new hostel would have an extra 11 rooms on top of the existing 20 and an elevator following “extensive landscaping”.

EDITORIAL: New plan for city eyesore long overdue

“The building has historical use as a hostel in the area, however, it requires refurbishment and upgrades following a change in ownership,” the application reads.

“The building is currently vacant and the proposed development works will contribute positively to the amenity of the locality and the streetscape.”

MALABAR Lodge goes under the hammer

The documents reveal the new and refurbished hostel rooms will be marketed to students, with one tenant to each room, and will feature eight car parks and 10 bicycle racks.

“The proposed refurbished and upgraded hostel will be used predominantly for student accommodation and self-catered through shared communal facilities,” the application reads.

“As the development will be self-catered, it will be unnecessary to have a staff member looking after the site most of the time.”

MALABAR Lodge needs urgent solution

Emergency services vehicles were not an uncommon sight at Malabar Lodge.

The development would not meet minimum building setback standards but the application argues the site’s “special circumstances” justify waving through the proposal.

“The existing building was built in the late 1950s, survived Cyclone Tracey in 1974 and was at some point (28/09/1995) considered for heritage listing,” it reads.

“The existing building holds historical and cultural values for patrons and community that has known and used the development over the years.

“It is however noted that the existing building limits siting options to provide communal and access facilities that would normally be required for this type of land use and thereby resulting in setback encroachment by some sections of the proposed additions and refurbishment.”

Malabar Lodge gained it’s notorious reputation due to its dilapidated state and the behaviour of some of its tenants with police called to the address up to 500 times within 12 months in 2017.

Realtor Rick Trippe, who handled the property before it sold to its current owner in February, told the NT News nearby neighbours were overjoyed with the sale.

“It will cost a lot of money to do up. I’m not sure what they are going to do with it,” he said at the time.

The building’s owner declined to comment.

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