Council enters final stage of Ipswich CBD revitalisation

24 June 2021

Ipswich City Council has committed $44 million in the 2021-22 annual budget to the next phase of work in the Nicholas Street Precinct redevelopment.

Chair of the Ipswich Central Redevelopment Committee Marnie Doyle said a significant proportion of the funds will be spent on the precinct’s retail components, allocated across the Venue building (cinema), Eats (food outlets), Metro B (alfresco dining, food and beverage, allied health), Metro A (retail) and the Commonwealth Hotel.

It will include reconstruction, extensive work on the building facades and enable tenant fit-out to commence.

“This exciting stage of the Nicholas Street Project will see construction of the retail and entertainment aspects,” Cr Doyle said.

“With the opening next week of council’s 1 Nicholas Street administration building and new children’s library to complement the Ipswich Central Library, this is a great time to visit Tulmur Place and new civic space.”

Council signed a contract with Hutchinson Builders in 2019 which included the reconstruction of the retail, entertainment and commercial premises as part of the broader program of works.

While the coronavirus pandemic had a major impact in the past 18 months, work started this year on the reconstruction of these buildings.

Work will continue in 2021-22 on other parts of Nicholas Street precinct.

The breakdown of spending is:

  • Metro A, B, Eats, and Venue ($36.1 million)
  • Administration Building, Children’s Library, carpark upgrade, civic square ($2.5 million)
  • Nicholas Street/Union Place streetscaping ($225,000)
  • Commonwealth Hotel extension works and fit-out ($5.162 million)

Another piece of the Nicholas Street Precinct puzzle has come together following practical completion of restoration works to the Commonwealth Hotel.

The Commonwealth Hotel, also known as Murphy’s Town Pub, had partially collapsed due to subsidence which made the building uninhabitable.

To ensure that the building could be repaired, and to prevent further disintegration to the original components, the building was carefully deconstructed with the pieces stored offsite at a council depot to be restored and repaired.

In June 2021, the Ipswich Central Redevelopment Committee endorsed a recommendation to extend the Commonwealth Hotel to the rear to increase its footprint which will require up to $5 million of further investment (included in the $44 million 2021-22 annual budget).

Cr Doyle said the market has indicated that the base building as it now stands is not of sufficient size to allow for a contemporary, inner-city pub/hotel offering.

“The hotel will act as an anchor for the precinct and drive additional footfall, dwell time and sales, minimising ongoing leasing risks and bolstering future trade,” Cr Doyle said.

“By extending the lease period and attracting a larger tenant we will improve the site’s commerciality allowing for greater return for council on their investment.”

Mayor Teresa Harding said Ipswich would welcome a beating heart back in the CBD and the development aligned with one the key concepts of council’s iFuture document, its 20-year community vision and five-year corporate plan: vibrant and growing.

“One of our outcomes for 2026 is that Ipswich is known as a sought-after location for business, industry and visitors,” she said.

“And that our city centre is alive with dining and entertainment for people to engage in that’s open seven days a week and late at night.

“I believe the Nicholas Street Precinct, and specifically, the entertainment and retail spots currently under construction, will attract people to our city to spend, and to live, work and play.

“The redeveloped Nicholas Street Precinct is a beacon, sending a message loud and clear that our city is open for business and ready for investment.

“Work is also continuing on the Nicholas Street retail development, and we expect to make exciting announcements about commercial tenants joining the precinct in the months ahead.”