CULTURAL BATTLE: In a recommendation, Rigby House will be sold or leased as part of an upgrade for a potential entertainment precinct at Gordon St. Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser meanwhile argues City Hill would be a better suited site.
CULTURAL BATTLE: In a recommendation, Rigby House will be sold or leased as part of an upgrade for a potential entertainment precinct at Gordon St. Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser meanwhile argues City Hill would be a better suited site. Trevor Veale

City Hill v Gordon St: Where's best for arts precinct?

AHEAD of Thursday's council meeting Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser urged councillors to consider City Hill as the best place for a cultural precinct.

Mr Fraser said City Hill was originally set out for this purpose and funds had been allocated by a previous council for this site to be developed as a cultural precinct.

"City Hill would give the opportunity not only for performing arts and visual arts, but also for any cultural activities and the precinct could be developed progressively as funds and the community need arose,” Mr Fraser said.

"City Hill is less than 1km from the city centre and could provide an opportunity for a hotel, which could accommodate anyone wishing to utilise the centre and at the same time provide a continuing income for the arts precinct, through a lease or commercial arrangement made with council.”

Mr Fraser also argued the site at City Hill had a strong historical relevance to Coffs Harbour, in relation to the Second World War bunker which now serves as the Bunker Cartoon Gallery.

In the council agenda for Thursday's meeting, a recommendation has been put forward that councillors confirm a cultural and civic precinct at the 23-31 Gordon St site.

The recommendation includes scope for a new central library, regional gallery, customer service, council chambers and council staff office accommodation.

A mixed and civic use investigation offered three options which all included selling or renting Rigby House and upgrades expected to cost upwards of $35 million.

  • Option 1: Upgrade to 23-31 Gordon St to include library, gallery, front counter/customer service and council chambers. Cost: about $18 million. Refurbishment of existing council administration building. Cost: about $2.7 million.
  • Option 2: Upgrade to 23-31 Gordon St to include library, gallery, front counter/customer service and council chambers. As well as that, include built-to-order office accommodation (approximately 3200sqm) for mixed use tenants. Cost: about $35 million. Refurbishment of existing council administration building. Cost: about $2.7 million.
  • Option 3: Upgrade to 23-31 Gordon St library, gallery, customer service and council chambers, and council staff office accommodation. Cost: about $35 million. Council administrative staff, currently at Rigby House, moves to 23-31 Gordon St.

Mr Fraser said such an upgrade in the CBD would likely create problems with parking, especially when events clashed with others at C.ex Coffs.

"I urge councillors to consider City Hill as the best alternative and to remind them that this land was originally sold to Coffs Harbour City Council, at a discount rate, with a view to utilising the area for arts and cultural activities,” he said.



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