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TFE Hotels officially launches Pentridge precinct venues on 26th anniversary of prison closure

  • Wurundjeri Elder Uncle Bill Nicholson performs a ceremonial cleansing at Pentridge.
  • Chapter Place events venue

The launch followed a private event last week where Wurundjeri Elder, Uncle Bill Nicholson, conducted a Welcome to Country and ceremonial cleansing of the site.

COBURG, MELBOURNE – On the 26th anniversary of the closure of HM Prison Pentridge, TFE Hotels has officially launched their 106-room Adina Hotel, Olivine wine bar, North & Common restaurant, Chapter Place events venue, and the experience-led urban retreat, The Interlude, and celebrated the site’s transformation into a billion-dollar dining and entertainment precinct.

TFE Hotels’ Regional General Manager for Victoria, Stephen Moore, said the unveiling of the billion-dollar Pentridge precinct was yet another sign that Melbourne’s tourism industry was continuing its post pandemic recovery with the city hosting some of its largest ever events in the past year.

In that regard, he said new product offerings, like Olivine and The Interlude, were focused on offering bespoke experiences in the hope of encouraging return visits to the city’s creative north.

Moore said this morning’s ribbon cutting, and ceremonial opening of a Heritage-listed red door into the converted prison wing, signified the official launch of TFE’ venues at the Heritage-listed Pentridge site.

The launch followed a private event last week where Wurundjeri Elder, Uncle Bill Nicholson, conducted a Welcome to Country and ceremonial cleansing of the site.

“This land was traditionally a gathering place and source of water, plants, and animals for the Wurundjeri people,” Moore said. “So, it was fitting that Uncle Bill conducted a Welcome to Country and a spiritual cleansing of a place that had a lot of sad and negative energy in its former life as a prison.

“In our eyes, the transformation of Pentridge has now come full circle, and can officially begin a new chapter as Melbourne’s newest dining and entertainment precinct.”

Local MP for Pascoe Vale, Anthony Cianflone, said the Pentridge Visitor and Entertainment Precinct was a game changer for Coburg. “Wine Bar, cuisine, wellness, accommodation, entertainment, history, culture, and tourism – all of which means a growing visitor economy, more jobs and skills for our community,” Anthony said. “Attracting a whole new and unprecedented market of international, interstate, and intrastate tourists to Pentridge, will have significant flow on benefits for surrounding small businesses, including along Sydney Road, Central Coburg, and the broader northern corridor.

“While it’s hard to describe the exceptional experience this new destination in the heart of Melbourne’s north has to offer, it’s not as hard as a real night in the original B Division.”

Mr Cianflone said the $1b Pentridge redevelopment, along with the State Government’s world-class new Coburg Train Station and Level Crossing Project, would be a catalyst for the ongoing renewal and revitalisation of Coburg as a future jobs hub for Melbourne’s north.

“As the State Member of Parliament, and a lifetime local who grew up on the other side of the iconic bluestone walls while the prison was still operational, I am honoured and humbled to be part of the opening of this new chapter in the history of Pentridge and Coburg”.

General Manager Jesse Kornoff said the 106-room Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge Melbourne (which had its soft opening in February), Olivine wine bar and the eight Chapter Place events spaces had been very well received by locals and travellers alike.

“We’ve had people coming in and staying because they’re genuinely interested in seeing what’s been hiding behind the bluestone walls; others were part of conferences or held events in our unique event spaces; and others still were simply attracted to the sheer convenience of our brand-new hotel being located half-way between Melbourne’s CBD and the airport.”

“Melbourne’s creative north has been on an exciting journey of gentrification over the past ten years and boasts a thriving arts community and restaurant scene,” he said. “So, the developer’s billion-dollar investment in developing the Pentridge lifestyle development certainly bodes well for its future.”

During the redevelopment of the historic Pentridge site, several rare panopticons were unearthed under the old prison exercise yards. Built in the 1850s and shaped like cartwheels, they were known as airing yards where inmates, including the infamous bushranger Ned Kelly, were granted one hour per day to exercise in isolation. Only eight known airing yards of this style still exist in the world, and three of these at Pentridge.

Kornoff said Chapter Place’s signature events space, The Reflection Garden, showcased one of the panopticons to best effect, whilst an X marks the spot on the prison wall shows where Ronald Ryan and fellow prisoner, Peter Walker climbed the wall to escape Pentridge on the 19th of December 1965.

North & Common restaurant, with Head Chef Mark Glenn at the helm, will open to hotel guests this week and officially launch to the public on May 10.

“North & Common is a great blend of modern and historic architecture and is such a warm and inviting dining space,” Kornoff said. “We’re excited Chef Mark Glenn’s elevated approach to neighbourhood dining is seasonal and approachable and we can’t wait to see what he and the team will deliver using a network of local suppliers and a produce-driven slant.”

Olivine wine bar, which opened last month, showcases the adaptive reuse of former prison cells which have been transformed into an elegant and refined wine bar with a walk-in cellar door and cosy booths. Modern and sophisticated, Olivine seats 100 guests and features a wine list of more than 500 labels from local and international producers that has been curated by one of Australia’s most exciting sommeliers, Wine Curator, Liinaa Berry.

The redevelopment of the 170-year-old site is one of the largest bluestone restoration projects ever undertaken in Australia and one of just 40 prison hotel conversions worldwide. The unique centrepiece of the redevelopment is The Interlude, the world’s first urban wellness retreat in a converted prison.

The Interlude, which features 19 exclusive heritage suites, each created out of 4 to 5 original cells with vaulted brick ceilings, original cell doors and bluestone walls, is expected to commence trial stays in the coming months.

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