Private-developer Riverlee and DarkLab have officially opened Hobart’s new $5 million live music and cultural precinct, in the culmination of its redevelopment of Hobart’s Odeon Theatre.
The cultural and entertainment district, known as “In the Hanging Garden”, was designed by Fender Katsalidis in collaboration with DarkLab, Mona’s subsidiary for creative projects.
Along with the Odeon Theatre, one of Tasmania’s oldest theatres, the space also offers an outdoor dining and beer garden, rotating pop-up kitchens with local vendors, a live music venue on the ground floor of the former Tattersalls Hotel, and a nightclub on the first floor of the hotel.
Plans will see an entire Hobart city block, which spans close to 7,000sq m, encompass residential, commercial and hotel facilities.
Riverlee development director David Lee says the opening comes as part of plans that are 15-years in the making, as the group had been strategically acquiring a host of sites across 11 transactions.
“We’ve been a major investor in Tasmania since 2000 [...] never did we imagine that all of this would eventually lead to an amazing and unique partnership with Mona and DarkLab,” he said.
“Very early in the piece, it was David Walsh who told us that culture cannot be designed or built, he said culture is created by people. We can’t control it. So rather than design a master plan, he suggested we open up the site, and invite other businesses in, letting them create their own culture,” he said.
The launch of “In the Hanging Garden” culminated in the commencement of Dark Mofo, the three-week festival which kicked off the following day.
DarkLab director Leigh Carmichael said the Odeon Theatre was originally earmarked for apartments, but together with Riverlee the pair had a joint vision to create a multi-venue live music precinct.
“The area owned by Riverlee already included the Odeon Theatre and the Tatts Hotel and by adding some food vendors, a pop up market and an outdoor event space, we subconsciously created a precinct, right in the heart of Hobart,” Carmichael said.
A newly-erected outdoor “Cathedral” space will also be home to a weekly market for produce and street food vendors.