ALBURY Council is locked in high-level negotiations with a preferred operator for the restaurant to be located at the rear of the $10.5 million redeveloped art gallery.
The restaurant and cafe will front QEII Square and was the subject of an expressions of interest process launched earlier this year.
The council’s community and recreation director James Jenkins said the talks were well advanced.
“Hopefully towards the end of the year we will be able to announce who the successful lessee is,” he said.
The council held a public information session yesterday to update progress on the art gallery, which is on target to be completed by June next year.
The restaurant and cafe will provide indoor and outdoor seating for more than 100 people.
Mr Jenkins said similar negotiations had started for a major exhibition soon after the art gallery opens.
“We are certainly negotiating with a whole range of organisations and people for the first six to 12 months,” he said.
“The main gallery space will be set aside for blockbusters and national and international touring exhibitions.
“We’ve got our eye on many.”
The demolition work on the art gallery has been completed with construction of the new part of the building, including the restaurant area, due to start shortly.
Mr Jenkins said the gallery would have 100 per cent LED lighting in a potential first in Australia.
“It is probably going to be the first art gallery in Australia to have totally LED lighting,” he said.
“It could be the most energy efficient gallery in Australia.
“Despite having to meet strict environmental criteria for art displays we are still able to achieve a state of the art facility.
“We’ve now confirmed that with our construction program.
“It is within the existing budget.”
The art gallery advisory group, which includes former council general manager Les Tomich, had its first meeting recently.
Part of its role will be securing philanthropic funding for the gallery.
The chairperson of the group will be elected at its next meeting.