FOR more than three years I have been voicing my disbelief that council was sinking its fortunes into building a cinema in the Nicholas Street precinct.
I first spoke of these concerns when I sat in on council pre-election meetings at Riverlink Shopping Centre with Teresa Harding, Kate Kunzelmann and Russell Milligan.
At the meetings Riverlink executives and the owner of Limelight Cinemas gave their support to a revitalized CBD, but at the same time questioned why there was talk of an opposition cinema opening up.
There was no secrecy attached to the talks and Riverlink has continued to speak out saying council needed to open businesses that were supportive of their retailers not in opposition to them.
Only a few weeks ago they held a meeting with the council’s CEO to again raise their concerns and ask for council to do a rethink.
In this paper I revealed that information from within the council walls estimated council’s free fit-out contribution to Hoyts was in the vicinity of $15million.
Now I am hearing that this figure is at the lower end of the scale and the fit-out costs, which we the ratepayers are paying, have ballooned to $20million plus.
Council has called a special meeting to discuss the financial mess today (Thursday) and it will make for interesting viewing on the council YouTube feed.
Of course, that is unless the councillors want to take it behind closed doors.
If they do, we should all be asking why the promise of openness and accountability has been thrown out the window of the new $110m council offices.
Of course, no matter what the outcome of the meeting we will once again hear the excuse that the current council was left with a mess to clean-up.
Yes, it may have been a dilemma, but there is no excuse for spending millions on projects that didn’t make good business sense.
The new council chambers and the libraries are a winner, the rest of the CBD project can only be described as a jumble of poor decisions.
Love him or hate him Bob Ell the owner of Riverlink and one of Queensland’s biggest developers said three years ago that Ipswich Council should forget about dabbling in the retail world and instead concentrate on improving the basics of the city.
If only they’d have listened we wouldn’t be in the financial mess we are today.
It made no commercial sense to build a cinema just a stones throw away from the Limelight Cinema which has been operating profitably and employing hundreds of locals for a number of years.
Council also made a poor decision committing multi-millions of ratepayer’s funds to entice a Chinese owned company to come to Ipswich on advice that badly needed reviewing.