BLOCK REDEVELOPMENT: Rockhampton Region mayor Margaret Strelow revealed Council's bold plans for the long vacant Wintergarden Theatre site on Alma St.
BLOCK REDEVELOPMENT: Rockhampton Region mayor Margaret Strelow revealed Council's bold plans for the long vacant Wintergarden Theatre site on Alma St. Contributed

Price tag and big plans for eyesore CBD block revealed

UPDATE 1.30pm: ROCKHAMPTON Region mayor Margaret Strelow has shared council's vision for the long disused Alma St block they strategically purchased for $1.25 million.

Standing in the freshly mowed "eyesore” block, formerly the home of Wintergarden Theatre on Alma St (between Fitzroy and Denham Streets), Cr Strelow revealed how they planned to ease parking congestion with the construction of 110 free long term car spaces in the short term before developing the site into bus transit centre in the years to come.

REDEVELOPMENT PLANS: Rockhampton CBD eyesore block on Alma St is set to be transformed.
REDEVELOPMENT PLANS: Rockhampton CBD eyesore block on Alma St is set to be transformed. Leighton Smith
REDEVELOPMENT PLANS: Rockhampton CBD eyesore block on Alma St is set to be transformed.
REDEVELOPMENT PLANS: Rockhampton CBD eyesore block on Alma St is set to be transformed. Leighton Smith

"Council has secured what is arguably the most strategic site left in the CBD for significant development,” Cr Strelow said.

"This area is one of those where long, all day parkers find particularly challenging, there's some distance away from the low bank of the river and people who work in this area do struggle to find a car park.”

Cr Strelow expected it to cost about $200,000 to develop and seal the block before opening to the public for free all day parking within the next three or four months.

BLOCK REDEVELOPMENT: Rockhampton Region mayor Margaret Strelow revealed Council's bold plans for the long vacant Wintergarden Theatre site on Alma St.
BLOCK REDEVELOPMENT: Rockhampton Region mayor Margaret Strelow revealed Council's bold plans for the long vacant Wintergarden Theatre site on Alma St. Contributed

"There's some engineering work to do and then a developmental approval will need to be obtained,” she said.

In addition to forming an integral park of the CBD parking strategy, Cr Strelow said the site was slated to be developed over the next two to three years as a bus transit centre incorporating one or two floors of car parking along with considering residential or commercial options.

"This site is a critical part of our CBD strategy and was identified when council was looking for a transit centre site as part of our CBD framework, to have the sort of bus interchange transit centre that we see in other significant cities,” she said.

BLOCK REDEVELOPMENT: Rockhampton Region mayor Margaret Strelow revealed Council's bold plans for the long vacant Wintergarden Theatre site on Alma St.
BLOCK REDEVELOPMENT: Rockhampton Region mayor Margaret Strelow revealed Council's bold plans for the long vacant Wintergarden Theatre site on Alma St. Contributed

"There certainly is a demand for a good interchange that will keep those buses off the street and provide high quality services to the people who want to use our CBD and for those who are transferring from intrastate or interstate.”

The council's ambition was for this development to be done in partnership between state government and private enterprise.

"We have already begun conversations with the state government about the use of this site and we've got to do a lot more work to get private enterprise,” Cr Strelow said.

BLOCK REDEVELOPMENT: Rockhampton Region mayor Margaret Strelow revealed Council's bold plans for the long vacant Wintergarden Theatre site on Alma St.
BLOCK REDEVELOPMENT: Rockhampton Region mayor Margaret Strelow revealed Council's bold plans for the long vacant Wintergarden Theatre site on Alma St. Contributed

"[The Department of Transport] have gone away to work on how that might look and certainly it's not something they've seen a problem with about how we make it work in a way that works for all of us.”

She said council had been excited by the initial response when showing this site to potential investors who had visited city in the last three or months, while the block was under the preliminary contract.

"We remain open to proposals that involve transit oriented solutions. Meanwhile we will all welcome the extra parking,” Cr Strelow said.

EARLIER: THE ugly vacant block where the majestic Wintergarden Theatre once stood in the Rockhampton CBD is poised for a long overdue facelift after Rockhampton Region Council teased an announcement today.

One of the most renowned and historic eye sores in the Rockhampton CBD, the dormant block on Alma St was often swamp-like - full of water, grass and pests.

The former Wintergarden site.
The former Wintergarden site. Melanie Plane

Talk of redeveloping the site has circulated for years but today, RRC is set to reveal a surprise redevelopment plan which many in the community hope will include more parking for the CBD.

REDEVELOPMENT: Wintergardens Theatre site set for a much needed facelift.
REDEVELOPMENT: Wintergardens Theatre site set for a much needed facelift. Contributed

The Wintergarden Theatre was ambitiously constructed in the late 1920s at a time when no public buildings of this kind had been previously attempted on such a grand scale in regional Queensland.

REDEVELOPMENT: Wintergarden Theatre prior to demolition.
REDEVELOPMENT: Wintergarden Theatre prior to demolition. Contributed

Seating 2000 people, it was primarily a picture theatre but also staged live theatre and concerts, ranging from drama, comedy, vaudeville, musical ice skating, variety, ballet, orchestral, rock and roll, and recitals before eventually closing in 1974.

The theatre was permanently placed on the Queensland Heritage Register in December 2003, which meant there were stringent restrictions with restoring the run-down building before being removed from the heritage list in 2004, opening the door for the site's redevelopment which saw the bulk of the building demolished except for the decaying facade which was eventually demolished in September, 2013.

REDEVELOPMENT: Wintergarden Theatre's facade prior to demolition.
REDEVELOPMENT: Wintergarden Theatre's facade prior to demolition. Contributed

Wintergarden redevelopment site viewed from the rear with large stagnant pool which could pose a health risk.
Wintergarden redevelopment site viewed from the rear with large stagnant pool which could pose a health risk. Chris Isson

Demolition gets underway at the old Wintergarden Theatre on Bolsover Street in 2013.
Demolition gets underway at the old Wintergarden Theatre on Bolsover Street in 2013. Chris Ison ROK200913cwintergarde

More to come.



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