FILLING FAST: Jessica Chapman of Nourish cafe has become one of the first tenants at the new Circa 160 development.
FILLING FAST: Jessica Chapman of Nourish cafe has become one of the first tenants at the new Circa 160 development. David Nielsen

Visionary gamble breathes vibrancy into Top of Town

CIRCA 160 is an exciting development bringing new life to the burgeoning Top of Town precinct.

Recently the official handover of the building to developer Martin Sammut signalled the end of a major undertaking and the birth of a very exciting place.

Martin Sammut of Sammut Bulow Accountants is a visionary, having undertaken several development projects in Ipswich.

He is a quiet achiever, drawing his pleasure from the ongoing success of a project.

Few could argue that Circa 160 was a bold initiative that breathed life into some wonderful signature buildings in Ipswich city.

"The plans started four years ago and construction commenced early 2014," Mr Sammut said.

"I have owned the property for eight years. The development takes in the former Big White building, the Ipswich Electric Light Company building which in later years was home to Betta Electrical.

"We carried out the development in two stages. The first was the Big White building at 160 Brisbane Street, and then we took on 164 Brisbane Street."

Sammut Bulow Accountants have occupied space in the new development and effectively were the first tenants even before ground floor work was carried out.

The 5400sqm Village Plaza design has respected the heritage but brought a Melbourne-like development to the city, complete with courtyards.

Circa 160 is the overall brand name for the total development, which is all but fully occupied.

"The first tenants to come into Circa 160 were Nourish Real Food Café, iThink Real Estate, Hearing Life, MCI debt collection, Worrell Forensic Accountants all taking pride of place in the stage one development," Mr Sammut said.

"The final tenant is Ipswich City Dental, they are just opening.

"Jessica Chapman of Nourish Real Food Café is delighted with the response. The café is meeting a growing demand for fresh quality foods that are sourced locally."

The second stage of the development is home to an exciting new development by Dale and Karyn Fechner, along with sons Steven and Andrew.

The vibrancy of the German culture is entrenched in the German restaurant and Bar Heisenberg Haus.

"They only opened recently and have had an overwhelming response," Mr Sammut said.

Other tenants include the Dancing Bean Café, which will open later this month.

The coffee roasting operation operates as a wholesale business and café.

McMillan Kelly and Thomas Lawyers are located in the former gallery and framing store.

Circa 160 has a 50-space car park that links Limestone and Brisbane street.

"I have had very good feedback from all the tenants who are trading well," Mr Sammut said.

"It is a destination place and I am very happy with the way it has come together - it is very gratifying."

Mr Sammut said the building process had uncovered the hidden beauty within the classic buildings.

It is his hands-on approach to development and meticulous detail in design that sets his work apart.

For Mr Sammut it is about "creating nice spaces, as an accountant I don't get to see physical outcomes so this is rewarding."

"It is a bit like build it and they will come, and growth is attracting more business to the Ipswich area. I have supported other local businesses in the development and we are providing a diversity in Circa 160 that a growing Ipswich needs," he said.