EXCLUSIVE: Plans for new civic, cultural hub revealed
IT'S been said that art feeds the soul, and, perhaps, it will also feed the economic prosperity of Bundaberg's CBD.
At the forefront of Bundaberg Regional Council's plan to breathe life back into the CBD is a new Civic and Cultural Arts Precinct.
The project is one of 29 featured on the council's 2020 advocacy list.
Filled with projects to build the local economy and deliver improved social infrastructure while protecting the environment, the council's 2020 advocacy list will be launched on Wednesday, ahead of the state election next month.
The Civic and Cultural Arts Precinct project is estimated to cost $55.1 million for a new gallery, new performing arts centre and new council office.
According to the project's advocacy document, while there have been previous plans for the CBD, no major investment has occurred in the CBD for the past decade.
The NewsMail understands the project includes 16 new buildings, 1.2km footpaths linking the civic centre/arts precinct to each other, the CBD and the riverfront, public and open spaces and 270 new trees.
While this is a long-term plan and it's likely to be several years before any development occurs, the project isn't just sitting on the shelf.
In April 2020, the council received $120,000 from the State Government to help prepare the business case for a new Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery.
The council's executive director of strategic projects and economic development, Ben Artup, said it was a big and long-term vision but it was "doable".
Mr Artup said they were starting with the art gallery because the current Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery had issues with the upper level and it was never a building that was intended to be a gallery.
He said the preferred site for a new gallery would be where the Civic Centre and Anglican hall is.
No decisions have been made on land acquisitions or building demolitions, this will only occur after funding sources are identified and consultation with stakeholders.
The NewsMail understands preliminary conversations have occurred with some parties, but development isn't anticipated for some time yet.
Mr Artup said the CBD was struggling and needed new economic anchors and drivers - something they hoped a civic and cultural approach could achieve.
The council has been working to plan, design and fund the new delivery of anchors for the CBD since 2017.
Mr Artup said they were hoping to move the council offices and commercial buildings towards the back of the precinct, around the Bundaberg library; thus, opening the front of the precinct up to potential residential opportunities.
With regards to parking, Mr Artup said that was addressed in the full plan, with parking suggested around the precinct to meet demand.
Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey said if the council can secure funding for a new Civic and Cultural Arts Precinct, it would create a vibrant community hub in the Bundaberg CBD.
"The idea is to revitalise the central part of the city and provide a stronger connection with the river through an integrated precinct-based approach," he said.
"The existing art gallery needs a refresh.
"Cultural arts facilities are the heart and soul of any community.
"New investments in the precinct will help inspire our city, recognise our past and imagine our bright future."
Extracts from the strategic vision regarding costs and benefits, state some of the potential qualitative benefits to residents and businesses highlighted by this concept include improved business confidence, which is expected to result in greater levels of business growth and economic activity; providing more job opportunities and greater potential for residents to live and work in Bundaberg.
Local health benefits and enhanced community development and civic pride with increase to quantum and quality of public and open space in the city centre are also listed among the benefits.
The plans for the new precinct come after the announcement for a proposed Bundaberg Regional Aquatic Centre and the Bundaberg Riverside Recreation Park redevelopment.
A block of land near the Bundaberg Multiplex has been identified as the preferred site for a new aquatic centre which is estimated to cost $23.8 million.
Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey said the project would deliver one of the most significant sports and recreation facilities in the region's recent history.
The plans for the Bundaberg Riverside Recreation Park is $19m redevelopment are expected to increase amenities in the Bundaberg CBD and represents one facet of the Riverside Masterplan and the Civic & Cultural Precinct Strategic Vision.