Murray Bridge's skyline is about to change forever, with the demolition of the 1884 Bridgeport Hotel and construction of a six-storey replacement.
The plan, which remains similar in scope to one revealed to the public in 2016, won final approval from the State Planning Commission on Thursday.
The new Bridgeport Hotel will feature 99 guest rooms, undercover car parking, a restaurant with al fresco dining, a gym, a swimming pool and a function room as well as a bar, pokies room and drive-through liquor store.
But the building's design has been updated, with more contemporary black, white and silver cladding replacing the brown and tan panels criticised by the public 16 months ago.
It will rise 23.5 metres above Bridge Street, and reach a comparable height to Ridley Agriproducts' nearby silos.
A report to the commission said the Office for Design and Architecture SA had been "significantly" involved in the evolution of the proposal.
Heritage value ‘significantly compromised’
Associate government architect Nick Tridente advised that the 1884 hotel's heritage value had been "significantly" compromised, and said he supported the development for its potential to revitalise the area.
He based his opinion on the advice of two consultants hired by the developer, Dash Architects' David Holland and CED Building Design's Craig Eyles, who inspected the hotel to see whether the original stonework was still there.
Mr Holland found the stone wall had been completely removed on the Bridge Street side, and that it had been so cut up on the East Terrace side he doubted it could bear the weight of the hotel's upper storey.
Removing the bricks and rebuilding the stone walls would not be cost effective and might not be achievable at all, he suggested.
Mr Eyles estimated that 65 per cent of the ground floor walls had been replaced, and said those which remained were in extremely poor condition due to water damage and bowing.
"No remaining facade wall could be reinstated to original condition," he said.
Documents attached to the plans showed the proponents and the Murray Bridge council, supported by their own consultant architect, had clashed repeatedly about whether the heritage building should be saved.
But a council officer ultimately accepted Mr Eyles' advice, and noted the council had not seen it when they requested more information last November.
No remaining facade wall could be reinstated to original condition.Craig Eyles
The commission set 26 conditions on the development, and advised that work would have to start within 12 months and finish within three years.
The Bridgeport's owners – EDP Hotels, formerly the Eureka Group – had spent six years and hundreds of thousands of dollars developing the plans and modifying them in accordance with feedback from local and state authorities.
The Murray Valley Standard has sought further comment.
The Bridgeport Hotel, the first in the Hundred of Mobilong, was built in 1884 and opened on January 2, 1885.