Courthouse Hotel to become new cultural precinct


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ICON SOLD: The Courthouse Hotel in Cairns has been bought for $5.75 million by the local council, and will be turned into an arts and cultural precinct. IMAGE: Supplied.

ONE of regions most historically significant buildings is back in public hands for the first time in 20 years, with the purchase of the Cairns Courthouse Hotel reaching settlement.

Cairns Regional Council has purchased the heritage-listed building with the objective of creating an art gallery and cultural precinct in the CBD.

Under a lease arrangement with the vendor, the hotel will continue to operate on a temporary basis at the management’s discretion.

“I’m happy to say this has been a positive outcome for all involved,” Mayor Bob Manning said.

“We’ve been able to come to a commercial agreement with the vendor, which means we didn’t need to implement a forced acquisition. We are very pleased that this process has been finalised under amiable circumstances and in the best interest of the community.”

Council has purchased the hotel at the agreed price of $5.75m (exc GST). The purchase does not include the associated poker machine licences.

“Those licences stay with the vendor, who has options regarding their future,” Manning said.

“We believe this purchase is a positive investment in Cairns’ cultural identity. Combined with the Cairns Regional Gallery building and the former Mulgrave Shire offices, we now have the ability to create an arts and culture precinct that will help to define our city.

“It’s a big step toward achieving our goal of becoming the Arts Capital of Northern Australia and ensures these three important heritage buildings are preserved in public ownership for the enjoyment of our community.

“We made this purchase on behalf of the people of Cairns and we look forward to unlocking the full potential of the combined site through a detailed master planning process.”

The hotel will be able to continue to operate during the planning phase, should the management wish to do so.

Council voted in October to implement a compulsory acquisition process, after the hotel was sold to another buyer despite Council having lodged an Expression of Interest to purchase the property.