Revamp of Hobart icon brings history to life

THE $16 million refurbishment of Hobart’s Cat and Fiddle Arcade and Elizabeth Place has officially launched this month, injecting new life into the retail centre.

A defining feature of the project is a uniquely crafted digi glass façade for the Elizabeth Street Mall entrance.

Designed by Perth-based developer Gerard O’Brien, of Silverleaf Investments, the installation documents the history of Cat and Fiddle Arcade from the late 1800’s to its opening in 1962.

“There are eight different panels and approximately 40 images contained within the design, each of which conveys a unique story and era,” Mr O’Brien said.

A free Cat and Fiddle Arcade app, available for download from the iTunes website, will enable people to “link” into each of the history panels and discover the stories behind the photographs.

The Smart Phone app will work by holding the phone to artwork hotspots to produce the information on the screen of the phone.

“Ultimately, our vision was to create something forward-moving and fresh while still paying due respect to the heritage and overall ambience of the property,” Mr O’Brien said.

“I’m sure every Hobart resident, of any generation, has a special memory of the Cat and Fiddle Arcade…it’s an icon that brings the community together, still to this day,” he said.

“For this reason, we went to great lengths to recognise this and ensure we didn’t take away from its history – part of this was keeping the original Cat and Fiddle clock as the central feature of the arcade.

“The main panel facing the Elizabeth Mall focuses on the Charles Davis story. His significant contribution to the Hobart CBD was an inspiration behind the design and just had to be acknowledged.”

Completed over six stages, the Cat and Fiddle Arcade redevelopment is part of a cluster of major developments in the city and includes alterations and extensions to shops, changes to internal layout and new tenancies.

Mr O’Brien’s investment in refurbishing the Cat and Fiddle Arcade is a major boost to the Tasmanian economy and demonstrates a strong vote of confidence in Hobart’s retail and commerce precinct.

This is in line with the latest Deloitte Access Economics and Commsec State of the States reports, which point to better times ahead for the Tasmanian economy, business and consumer confidence.

“Commsec has said that the economy is still expanding, with economic growth and retail spending growing faster than historical levels,” the Minister for Finance, Scott Bacon, said.


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