The ambitious development that could transform Lismore
LISMORE City Council has an ambitious plan to build a modern civic plaza, underground carpark, brand new library - and a hotel - all on a single site in the centre of town.
Estimated to cost at least $35 million, the proposal for the site at Harold Fredericks Car Park (on the corner of Magellan and Dawson streets) is one of the town's boldest projects of the last two decades.
The council last year signed an expression of interest with design and construction firm Blades Project Services to progress the project.
Blades managing director Vince Corry said Lismore was "crying out" for a development of this kind.
"A town centre is something which is well and truly needed in Lismore," he said.
"And there wouldn't be another similar sized town in Australia that doesn't have a hotel."
The completed project would feature the following key elements: a brand new library, a 240 space underground car park, a four-storey office block, a serviced apartment-motel complex, and a raised "civic plaza".
The library and office complex would be directly south of the current Lismore Regional Gallery, while the motel would be fronted on Magellan St.
It sounds great, but where is the council going to find the cash?
In a public-private partnership, the money for the carpark, plaza, and new library would likely come from the State or Federal Government, while the office building and serviced apartments would be privately funded by a developer.
Lismore City Council is pinning its hopes on the NSW Government's Regional Growth Fund - made possible by the lease of the state's poles and wires - as a source of funding.
However, it needs to wait until the State Government launches the "cultural stage" of the fund.
It also has two other applications to other stages of the Fund - one for the Stage 2 of the Oakes Oval upgrade (sporting infrastructure stream), worth $6 million, and the Lismore Regional Park, valued at $16 million (in the 'growing local economy' stream).
So Lismore has a lot of 'to dos' on its list, and the plaza is still way back in the pipeline.
However, the council's executive director sustainable development Brent McAlister said the development was a vital part of the city's evolution
"The proposed Blades development would provide even more green space in the heart of Lismore, boost A-grade office space, and provided much-needed serviced apartments," Mr McAlister said.
"Currently we are losing a significant number of overnight stays with its associated spending to Ballina and Byron because of their serviced apartments.
"This development is also a key component of the Central Growth Corridor, which links Lismore Base Hospital and the surrounding health precinct with the planned Lismore Park, Oakes Oval, the gallery and Quad right through to the CBD and riverbank.
"Having connectivity in the centre of the city with green spaces and public places where people can meet, gather and recreate will redefine how people use and enjoy Lismore, and bring thousands more visitors to our city."