Vision turning into nightmare
IF Mayor Bob Manning hadn’t lost enough sleep over the building of the new Cairns Performing Arts building, the former Courthouse Hotel will surely have him frantically searching for more sheep to count.
The refurbishment bill of about $6.2 million now towers over the price Cairns Regional Council paid for the heritage-listed building in 2016.
A long to-do list of rectifications to make it heritage standard includes asbestos removal and fixing termite damage and dodgy renovations. The original judge’s bench has vanished, however there is a replica that acted as a DJ deck during the building’s pub era. That’s simply criminal.
It was no secret Cr Manning admired the beautiful building in Abbott St so when a buyer moved to purchase it, council swooped to seal the deal – and ratepayers’ fate.
The vision was to create an arts precinct that would eventually cost about $40 million.
The concept was good but the execution so far?
Costly and slow-going.
It beggars belief how a heritagelisted dwelling – and one so prominent – could be allowed to fall so far into disrepair.
Where were the department’s inspections to ensure it was being properly cared for? What’s the point of heritage listing if all it means is black ink on a piece of paper?
And while renovation jobs can offer up “surprises” the magnitude of defects makes you wonder how large this bill will end up being.
Council’s bid to gain government funds has so far been ignored, however the project now has support from advocacy group Advance Cairns.
Securing project funding is now more urgent than ever.
Story originally published in Cairns Post on 3 October 2019.