Council remains confident project remains on track for Ipswich
IT’S now common knowedge that Ipswich Council has banked the lot on Hoyts Cinemas proving the ideal anchor tenant for the CBD after they spent millions in ratepayer’s funds to lure them into the centre of Ipswich.
While the cinema fit-out project started some months ago it’s now been made public that Chinese company Wanda Cinema Line, which owns Hoyts, are trying once again to sell the entire Hoyts Australian operation.
Wanda Cinema Line is part of China’s Wanda conglomerate and previously asked Credit Suisse to sound out buyers in May 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Council was asked a number of questions last week by this paper regarding the sale announcement, which it now seems they may have known nothing about until it appeared in the Financial Review.
Central Redevelopment chairperson Cr Marnie Doyle dismissed any problems with Hoyts completing its build and its financial contributions in saying “large-scale businesses were frequently bought and sold as part of typical commercial enterprise”.
“Council is looking forward to the completion of the venue refurbishment and the installation of six state of-the-art screens,” she said.
When once again asked to quantify the extent of council’s financial commitment to the project and details of the lease she fell back on the line council has used for the past two years.
“Council is committed to transparency, however, is unable to release specific terms of commercial contracts due to commercial confidentiality,” she said.
Local Ipswich News revealed some months ago that strong whispers inside the council corridors have put the council funded fit-out figure at up to $15million.
Council has yet to dispute that assumption.
A spokesperson for Hoyts said while it is true that the Wanda Group is exploring the possibility of a sale, it is business as usual for the company.
“Hoyts would like to assure our customers and partners that our focus remains on delivering exceptional cinema experiences and maintaining our strong position in the Australian cinema market,” the spokesperson said.
In a sidelight to the CBD cinema rebuild local food businesses have recently made complaints about excessive noise from the project claiming it was driving customers away.
The small business owners are concerned the fit-out is still months away from competition.