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Council makes decision to deal with challenges of Venue contract

The cinema refurbishment in the Nicholas Street Precinct is continuing.

Ipswich City Council has approved a $15 million contract variation on the Venue development in Nicholas Street Precinct, after careful consideration of the options available and their respective risks, at a special meeting of council on Thursday, 11 May.

The Venue building, formerly Birch, Carroll & Coyle on the corner of Brisbane Street through to the Nicholas Street Mall, will be the home of HOYTS and the centrepiece of Ipswich’s revitalised Nicholas Street Precinct.

Ipswich Central Redevelopment Committee Chairperson Marnie Doyle said council had approved the contract variation following consideration of new and additional information on significant remediation issues in the building.

“This two-level project will welcome a brand-new cinema into the city centre along with a host of additional entertainment and dining options, rounding out the major revitalisation of Ipswich’s city centre,” Cr Doyle said.

“Venue will be a destination in itself, home to vibrant and dynamic entertainment offerings, further cementing Nicholas Street Precinct as the place to visit for families and young people.

“The detailed design is currently being finalised and I am really excited to soon share the drawings with residents and local businesses. The Venue site fronting Ellenborough, Brisbane and Nicholas Streets is going to totally transform the façade and look of the entire block.

“Work on the Venue refurbishment has continued apace this year and unfortunately as the demolition has been undertaken contractors Hutchinsons have uncovered further issues that required consideration from council.

“These issues included invasive and significant black mould discovered in the internal walls of the six cinema boxes that requires careful and complete removal.

“Council had previously approved a smaller provisional sum to treat mould, however after further testing and demolition, significant additional funding was needed to appropriately eradicate this health and safety hazard.

“Further issues uncovered included a collapsed sewer, issues with significant variations in the ground floor slab, and the need to bring the tiered seating in the cinema boxes up to current industry standards.”

The contract variation will also allow for council-requested amendments to the design scope to finalise design and tenancy works.

The total additional funding requirements for the Venue redevelopment to address the issues raised is approximately $21 million.

Council approved the requested variation of $14.985 million on Thursday.

Council also resolved to conduct a review of the contract management process in relation to the contract over the last 12 months, and provide a report identifying financial, operational and legal risks that may have arisen and how they were addressed or could still be addressed.

“When complete, Venue will be a remarkable and welcome new centrepiece for Ipswich’s city centre, bringing more jobs and entertainment options for locals,” Cr Doyle said.

“The Nicholas Street Precinct, including Venue, is estimated to achieve a total direction contribution of $1.196 billion to Ipswich between 2020 and 2032.

“It is now anticipated HOYTS will take up tenancy and Venue officially opened in the first quarter of 2024. HOYTS is in agreement with this later opening date.

“Council will take the time to ensure these extended refurbishment works are completed safely and appropriately.

“Council is committed to the revitalisation of our city centre in a responsible manner, and we look forward to seeing this exciting project completed.”

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