When Council voted to move forward with the new Cultural and Civic Space for the Heart of the City it was a great day for the future of Coffs Harbour.
It was also a great day for the community’s cultural life and aspirations, lifelong learning opportunities, inclusivity and overall health and wellbeing.
The Cultural and Civic Space will transform the CBD into a vibrant, busy destination that draws in locals and visitors alike.
They bring life, vibrancy, cultural and economic benefits to areas that can otherwise be lifeless outside business hours – and it brings the cultural community into the heart of the city too.
Having a facility that incorporates a Regional Gallery, Central Library, Museum, multipurpose community meeting rooms, co-working space, shop, café, function space, customer service area, Council staff office accommodation and car parking , means people of all ages and backgrounds have a reason to visit.
Done right, we will see Coffs Harbour’s city centre rival the best that any other regional city can offer.
We want to give Coffs Harbour a new cultural heart that is inclusive, attractive and welcoming to all.
Net cost of $46m
And – just to be clear – there are no plans to raise funds through any new Special Rate Variation.
From initial discussions, the project has since grown significantly in scope – as have construction costs – and the final overall bill, which includes contingency amounts, is now forecast by independent quantity surveyors to be around $75m.
At this stage, to enable the project to come to fruition, we plan to sell Council’s Administration Building, Rigby House, the current Museum and the commercial offices at Rose Avenue.
In addition, we will be using funds from reserves accrued through Council’s organisational restructure and ongoing efficiency savings.
With the proposed sales of Council assets and reserve funds included in the Concept Business Case, we are looking at a net cost of $46m.
This Centre has received overwhelming support from the community, not least in the latest round of consultation over the concept design elements. It also has the backing of the business sector and is a key part of the City Centre Masterplan.
I predict that the Cultural and Civic Space – For the Heart of the City is going to be another game changer for Coffs Harbour.