ALBURY Council management has settled on its preferred plan for a $18.5 million revamp of the entertainment centre which includes the dumping of a pedestrian bridge link between the convention wing and theatre.
A total rebuild of the convention wing built in the early 1970s at a cost of $34.1 million has been ruled out, but the project will still carry an even bigger price tag than the creation of Murray Art Museum Albury and the ongoing redevelopment of Lavington Sportsground.
The 2016 LambEx conference, which attracted 900 delegates, had to be based at the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre and the upcoming NSW Local Government conference with 800-plus delegates will require temporary marquees to be erected in QEII Square again to stage it at the entertainment centre.
The pedestrian link between the convention wing and theatre building was estimated to cost $830,000, but in a report for council by acting general manager Tracey Squire and acting director Kate de Hennin it wouldn’t deliver “value for money when compared against the operational and patron experience benefits of the connection”.
But the figure has been retained in the project budget to offset excluded items such as fixtures, fittings and equipment and refurbishment and renovation works including the potential removal of hazardous material.
The council is also bracing for a hit to income from events which can’t be held during the redevelopment.
“The preliminary feasibility study undertaken into the expansion of the AEC in 2017 sought to increase the capacity of the venue to service larger business-conference events and functions of between 800 and 1000 patrons,” the report states.
“It showed there was an opportunity to increase Albury’s share of large-scale business and conference events.
“It highlighted that the convention wing is an ageing asset that requires capital investment in order to ensure it continues to meet and capitalise on market demand.”
Once the preferred plan has been adopted, the council will actively pursue federal and state government funding to add to the $5 million it is prepared to allocate towards the redevelopment.
- Receive our daily newsletter straight to your inbox each morning from The Border Mail. Sign up here