THERE is no doubt about it, the Commercial Hotel sitting next door to the Oaks apartments is the worst building in the CBD and a black eye for the entire precinct.
Have I just offended Norm Solomon, the owner of the old pub, no, in fact he agrees.
He even says the quicker it is demolished the better saying the 106-year-old structure is coming apart at the seams.
“It’s full of termites, the foundations have massive cracks, the building is moving away from the footpath and when you walk around upstairs you are lucky not to fall through the rotting floorboards,” Norm said as he was taking me on a tour through the derelict building.
Norm bought the old pub in 2002 and paid just under $400,000 for the privilege of owning the worst hotel in Ipswich.
“I knew when I was handed the key there was major work needed, but it was sitting under a high density zoning and I thought one day I could sell it for a good profit,“ he said.
Unfortunately, Norm’s plans washed away with the major 2011 flood which flowed through the bottom of his pub.
In the council’s new review of flood lines they decided to downgrade his zoning.
Now his property is impossible to sell with hundreds of thousands needed to demolish the ram-shackle pub and little chance of any buyer being able to build any sort of suitable structure on the flood prone site.
Making matters worse is the fact that Norm has now been taken to court by Ipswich Council as they demand he make urgent improvements to the building.
“They’ve got to be crazy, it would cost millions to fix this crumbling wreck and you’d never get your money back,” he said. So, when Norm fronts court later this month he’ll have to throw up his hands and say sorry can’t do that.
What that could mean is that council will insist the property is demolished and they will try to pin those costs back on Norm.
Unfortunately, Norm doesn’t have any money after he was told to kick out the 10 boarders he had at the property last year and to shut the bar down for good.
“My only hope is for council to show goodwill and hand back a high-density zoning for the property,” Norm said.
While he’s hopeful he realises the chances of that are close to zero.
Nonetheless Norm is a feisty old bugger and he won’t go down without a fight. The fact is the bout is in the 15th round and the council is about to deliver the knockout blow.