What?s up with the Bray St complex?
By BELINDA SCOTT
IS the Bray Street entertainment complex so jinxed it needs a commercial exorcism?
Well, yes and no.
The owner of the cinema building, Ross Taylor, and commercial leasing agent Barry Booth of LJ Hooker, have recently renewed their 2005 plea to Coffs Harbour City Council to change the zoning of the Bray St complex, while last week saw the crash of the Copa banana nightclub.
Mr Taylor believes the zoning is too restrictive and specialised, given the size and location of the complex. He says under 3D Tourist zoning, only three of the site's 31 permitted uses are commercially feasible.
He can lay out the death toll of operators who did not survive Bray Street ? names like Star Diner, where three business operators went bankrupt and which was vacant for five years and Silvers Club and Bar ? unoccupied for two years after four operators went bankrupt in 10 years.
Silvers was recently revived as the Copa banana nightclub and dinner theatre, but closed less than two months later with substantial losses.
Mr Taylor still has hopes for dinner theatre, saying that the closure of the Nunsense production was due to problems with the technical crew, not with the host venue, cast or caterer.
But he said the tourist zoning offered no scope for improvement and he had refused many inquiries for premises because the proposed uses, like offices, medical facilities or video shops, were outside the current zoning.
As a result, he said, despite its strategic location the complex would continue to fail.
Three indoor swimming pools are the latest addition planned for the Bray Street entertainment complex.
The project was described yesterday as an upmarket boutique swim centre and is the brainchild of the owners of Swimplex Aquatics, which specialises in major aquatic projects.
"It will offer lessons, water survival for babies, adult water aerobics and warm water therapy," said one of the owners of Swimplex Aquatics, Coffs Coast resident Geoff Leaver.
Mr Leaver said although the zoning was 'fairly restricted', they had managed to conform.
He said the Star Diner building had had a chequered history and the new useage would be a good fit for the site because it would not conflict with the cinema times and would be busiest during weekdays and on school days.
Birch, Carroll and Coyle have a cinema monopoly and in April the Greenhouse Tavern was sold to Australian Leisure Hotels (ALH) for what is believed to be an eight-figure sum.
Topolinos, which has also been bought by ALH, continues to be operated as a restaurant, but there are widespread but unconfirmed rumours that the Woolworths group hopes to operate it as a Dan Murphys Li- quor Barn in the future.