Saturday, 5 September 2009

Cairns Courthouse Hotel still vacant

KitchenSlut writes that the SMH Business Day has reported on the impact of sinking pub values on the ING Real Estate Entertainment Fund, which also concerns is the historic Cairns Courthouse Hotel.

  • "The historic Courthouse Hotel in Cairns, which has been empty for the past seven months since the tenant walked out, has a carrying value of at $6.3 million according to ING REEF's accounts filed last week.

    Sources say it is worth closer to $3 million in its current state because the fund has not received rent since February. The hotel also lacks a licence for poker machines or any furniture or other fittings needed to operate. The previous tenant removed them."

    Back in May the
    Compost reported interest from Cairns Regional Council in buying the building which was to be discussed at a closed meeting. Alternative public uses could include an extension of the Regional Gallery or a museum, although I'm not sure how that would fit financially or culturally with the proposed $230million 'volcano' performing arts precinct down on the waterfront at the wharf?

    Apparently Previous negotiations for Council to buy the building failed at $5.5million in 2005.

    Also in 2005 Council paid $6.4million to buy a site in Hartley St to relocate the Civic Theatre.


Council Watcher said...

This is where the museum should be, in a mid city building of historical interest not in a modern monstrosity on the city fringe where tourists will never venture.
Come on CRC buy this building to display our history and tell our stories. I've paid my rates so you should be cashed up!

Factman said...

Syd ...
I agree totally with you.
The old Courthouse should be the Cairns Museum.
And the State Government should buy it back from whoever owns it now, because they sold it.
Those Labor dogs under the name of the Goss/DeLacy Government sold it along with other buildings and parks in this city.
It is not Council's, (read ratepayers)job, now to find 5 millon buckaroos to do what them Labor dogs should have done 15 years ago.
And that's a fact ...

Lillian at Yorkeys said...

It's a nice idea to buy back the Courthouse for a Museum, however, the Art Gallery is way too small for a city our size, so it would make more sense to buy the Courthouse & incorporate that in to the current Gallery.
If we're going to do a Museum properly (exhibits, storage, research & curation areas) you're going to need a whole lot more area than what the Courthouse affords.

Now, there's a nice vacant block of land on the waterfront for a museum - yes, where the poor old Yacht Club used to be. Grab that, & incoporate the Wharf Terminal as an historical focus, bung in the Cairns Maritime Museum (who are in a leaky, asbestos-laden shed somewhere in Portsmith,) & you might have something worth walking to.
Geez that site is sad - I was having a bevvie at the Hilton the other week & peered through the cyclone fencing to have a look - nothing there. Just flat land, & the bastards have even filled in the beach with sand up to street level.

Nick said...

And does anybody know how the 'restoration" of the old Yacht Club building at JCU is going ? Or has the project quietly been abandoned ...

As for Val's Vision, well at least she is coming up with something new.

Listening to the callers on the John McKenzie show, Cairns is obviously not ready for it.

People in Cairns want (more) sports grounds and want their roads fixed. They don't want culture or bicycle tracks.

John McKenzie does not want bicycle tracks either, especially not in McLeod St. I wonder if his daily rant about the one-laning of Mcleod St. has something to do with the fact that one of major sponsors has a tyre shop there ?

I drive past Cairn Central at least 3 times a week. I never have trouble finding a parking spot in the street and I don't understand what the problem is, other than "we don't like change !"

Recently, McKenzie had another juvenile sniggering session with Gavin King (you know, the famous Sunday Mail journo...) , taking the piss out of our mayor and ANYTHING she suggests.

If only they had the guts to do the same with the former mayor... for example Kev's great vision for City Place (pave it !) and the design of the monstrous high rise he is going to inflict on us.

Wendy Richardson said...

Thoroughly agree with Lillian. There was more to the Sydney Morning herald article which I've asked 'Kitchen Slut' to look into further.
If price was lowered, citizens themselves should consider raising funds (I know, we're all doing it tough) but a combination of private, Council and State money just might see it come back to us.

Private funding got us the existing Art Gallery and JCU campus to begin with. We can do it if we put ur hearts into it.

Waste of time expecting Bligh and Co to put in much though, their concern stops at the northern suburbs of Brisbane and they have got the State worse than broke.

KitchenSlut said...

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing! KS has acculumated some knowledge recently of pub economics following his deconstruction of the Hedley empire more than a year ago and foray into heritage hotel properties!

However confesses to being somewhat confused by the vaguely evasive info coming from the ING freehold owners of the Courthouse. The exceptionally skinny info within the statutory ASIC lodgings by the receiver of the Courthouse leasehold tenant is even more headscratching?

Have no idea whats going on or veracity of media reports. Curiously the Compost report linked above was dated 23 May and refers to the receivers Pilot Partners. Pilot Partners lodged documents with ASIC that they were no longer receivers by May 22? Who did Council deal with for their discussions the subsequent week if the report was correct again?

However What is certain is that there is a problem here which may present an opportunity albeit with obstacles.

Given the quietness, disclosure anomalies, and the denial of Val in the Compost report is it possible that smoke signals have still since passed between distant hills?

Wendy Richardson said...

Re the old Cairns Yacht Club building ....
JCU are proceding with their Student Services building which is using the floor and uprights of the old Yacht Club building.

All seems to be going OK at present. I await the finished product before commenting any further on the project, but I do look forward to assisting with historical memorabilia, so at least the students will have SOME appreciation of what went before them over those floor boards.

However, I will NEVER forgive Labor's Faceless Four up here for their total lack of vision and total lack of integrity in letting occur whatever was the REAL motivation for its demise.

Bligh is hugely to blame; when I asked her a year ago if she really understood what she was getting rid of (and cited some significant history) she just 'Bligh-thly' said 'Yes!' and continued on her path of destruction.

I was telling a couple of southerners some of the history again last week and they were appalled, (as is always the case - what a huge heritage tourism opportunity we have missed) saying "But this is history all Australia should know about! It belongs to us all."

I try very hard not to be bitter and twisted about it, but I know I am not alone in feeling very angry when we have days like the Battle for Australia Day and a major focus for the servicemen involved in that battle has been removed and largely destroyed.

I also find it nearly impossible to be interested in Anna's Q 150 celebrations; why should we feel good about what she has preserved in Brisbane when what we held most dear has been wrecked?

Nick said...

"However, I will NEVER forgive Labor's Faceless Four up here for their total lack of vision and total lack of integrity in letting occur whatever was the REAL motivation for its demise."

And neither will I. It was utterly shameful and totally ignorant to turn that vibrant corner of "old" Cairns into wasteland..

the new liberal exlabor colinwhodares said...

I take great exception to you wendy for calling the four local members the faceless four , as everyone in cairns knows they have all got two faces , one for before the pre election and one for post election! the asset selling two faced shifty tossers.

Bobby said...


We need another "Elite" sporting facility like a hole in the head.
The shame of this Council is their inability to provide more sports grounds for community participation. While the junior football codes struggle each week to schedule games, Val, Meg and Blakie sit by and let grounds such as Buchan street go unused. Oh yeah, they know about it, listen to them pass the buck because they don't have the acumen or energy find a way around it.

Lillian at Yorkeys said...

Very good ColinWhoDares - perhaps we could call them The Gang of Eight (Faces)?
Seriously though - I can't see the lack of sports fields in this here town - they're all over the place. What's the problem in accessing them? I'm interested to know.

Lillian at Yorkeys said...

PS. I always thought it curious that there was a lease taken out with Cairns Ports on the Yacht Club land by a crew named 'Southern Pacific Bridal' a few months before the YC buildings' demolition. I still reckon there's a story in that. Was the Hilton implicated in that? What are the details of the lease arrangement, if it is still in force? Who has, or will, benefit from this lease?
Also, Wendy, do Anton Demolitions still have the wooden signs up for sale?

Kev said...


Take a drive over to Buchan St. and ask the caretaker how many games of footy are played there every year. Check out Jones Park during the beginning of the rugby league season and see the overcrowded quagmire that exists. Ask Junior Soccer about their woes in trying to find enough grounds to play on. And finally, follow the trail of destruction the Pride is leaving as it crushes smaller community based clubs in its quest for a pokie-bistro and paddock.

Now, how many fat kids do you reckon we can fit into Val's Volcano?

Nick said...

And why are the kids fat ?

Is it because of a lack of sporting venues or is it because they get driven to school and everywhere else and because they sit in front of PC's and TV's and eat too much junk food ?

The more sporting venues the better, but that should not be at the expense of decent cultural facilities for Cairns.

In the meantime,fat kids can run around the block to stay fit or they can go to the Woree pool, where it hardly ever crowded.

I grew up playing soccer in the street and it never did me any harm..

Traffic Engineer said...

Yeah, good one Nick!

"I grew up playing soccer in the street and it never did me any harm".

Lucky you didn't become a T.C.D.(Traffic calming device).

The streets of Holland obviously have more understanding drivers and less hoons, than the streets of Cairns.

PS. Why didn't you use the openbaar park or the natuurreservaat?

Wendy Richardson said...

I'm not sure if I'm understanding you correctly. What are you referring to when you talk about 'another "Elite" sporting facility'?

If you are referring to the old Yacht Club, then you are one of many Cairns residents who never understood the battle for the Yacht Club at all.

I was aware when we were fighting for its survival that some people mistakenly thought we were trying to preserve a building for an elite group of wealthy yachtsmen and women.

Far from it! The actual club membership had been caught up in the debacle long before, and had reluctantly agreed to move on to new premises. In any case, they were mostly kids and family people or crusty old salts who lived on their boats. Nothing too elite about most of them.

Anyway, the battle was for something quite different. As is the situation often with Yacht Clubs the world over, this one was a social hub for the fledgling township of Cairns with the building appearing just 13 years after the first settlers.It continued on for nearly 100 years - the only reason for its demise - political skullduggery!

It survived numerous cyclones and two World Wars where it played an integral part in housing sailors and secret wartime plots. It was the collection and packaging point for the Soldier's Comfort Fund and was the main recreational venue for the 100,000 servicemen and women who were based here. Some of these fought in the Battle of the Coral Sea, others were the Catalina Squadrons who flew over 3000 missions from our harbour, though not that many returned.

I could go on, but won't.

It's history could fill a book - in fact it is. A book is taking shape from the records of all those involved with this building.

I will ensure Blog readers are the first to hear of its launch.

KitchenSlut said...

Fat Kids?

Just wait until the new KB sponsored Pakistani owned via a Bahamas joint venture pizza shop opens on the corner of Shields and Abbott to replace previously healthy quality cafe's! New York Mafia pizza mmmmm yummm?

More on Court House coming soon and still not convinced something isn't already going on there!

Wendy Richardson said...

PS Lillian, don't know if Anton's Demolitions still has signs. Last I knew they wanted $3000 each from the JCU Student's Union so that they culd be erected at the new site.

For those who don't know, the building was known during the 2nd World War period and beyond as 'The Aquatic Dance Palais' - the signs were from that era.

Bobby said...


Take a chill pill sweetheart. Not everything mentioned in this blog revolves around your Yot Club.
As admirable (pun?) as this protest and establishment was, it was not what i call "Elite" Are you really just a one trick pony or have my rattling dentures deafened me to your latest "cause of the day"

Nick said...

"Traffic Engineer:Why didn't you use the openbaar park or the natuurreservaat?"

Bit hard when you are in the middle of a big city...

I think saying that kids are fat, because there are not enough sport facilities is a cop-out. Cairns and surrounds is one big playground.

What we really need is a proper, separate bike-way from Gordonvale to Palm Cove, so the kids can stay fit and push bike to school and their parents can stop clogging up the highways.

Have a look at Roberts Rd. in the morning and you'll see 20 to 30 cars backed up at the roundabout, just sitting there waiting their turn, so they can drop the little dears off right in front of the school. It's bizarre.

Having separate bikeways will also enable irate drivers to vent their road rage on each other, instead of abusing cyclists. It's a win-win situation!

Tracy said...

Fair comment on the fat Nick, but playgrounds are one thing and sporting fields are another. And this council has a big zero for improving the latter. Don't get me wrong i like your bike idea, but the truth is Aussies love their footy whatever the code, and kids just don't have the same opportunities here.

Nick said...

"kids just don't have the same opportunities here.'


There is always room for improvement and correct me if I am wrong, but I think the facilities here (sporting fields, swimming pools etc.) are better than anywhere else in the Western world.

That's why I learned to play soccer in the street...

Dutchie said...

On the subject of the Court House, if possible, I do believe it is a good acquisition for the Council. It could be good for many things and as for value, it will always be prime real estate.

As for facilities... I grew up in Holland too and one thing you don't see is parents driving kids to school, driving kids to sporting clubs etc. Kids ride their bike everywhere they go. Can someone explain why a kid needs to be driven to the sports club? Aren't we defeating the purpose? Sure, if you live a long way out of town, or it is dangerous to travel the distance (due to lack of bike paths?), fair enough. But otherwise, what's the excuse?

I used to ride my bike 10 kilometres one way to school every day, and so did many others. In fact, many of my mates did 16k one way a day. I estimate I would ride 200 kilomtres a week on my bicycle. Not that I had to, there were plenty of schools in my town, but I liked this one better so I just rode there. Never thought much about the distance. And we didn't have sunny days and nice weather to ride in. Admittedly, if it was snowing or something I would catch the bus (no way my parents would drive me any anywhere).

When I started work in Amsterdam, I (and all my colleagues) would ride 9 kilomtres to work every day because cars are too expensive and there was hardly parking in the city, where I had moved to. Yes lawyers, accountants and other office workers ride their bikes to work. By the way, parking is about $80 a day in the city there. In municipal cities it's around $5 an hour. Compared to that Cairns is not so bad either.

I too grew up playing soccer in the streets (yes in suburbia), but granted, speed limits in small suburbian streets in Holland can be about 15k. And yes drivers are much, much more considerate on the roads.

If we didn't play in the street, we would find a grass patch somewhere chuck down some coats that functioned as goal posts and off we went. No need for flash goals, lines, sports parks etc when you're having fun. You can't say there isn't enough green in Cairns to have a game of anything anywhere. We're just making excuses why people aren't getting off their asses.

I agree with Nick, compared to many other places in the world, not just Holland, there is so much space for kids here.

What's wrong with running up the many hills, going for a swimm at Crystal Cascades, the beach, Mulgrave River, skating along the Esplanade and riding a bike to school? Man, I wished I had grown up here! Thankfully I can enjoy all of this now...

The town / city I grew up in was the same size as Cairns. It had one indoor pool, one outdoor pool (only used for about three months of the year), two outdoor tennis clubs and one indoor tennis and squash facility, one soccer club, one hockey club, and one athletics club. That's it. And that was (and still is!) considered adequate. Compare that with Cairns...(and you can't say that Holland isn't a sporting nation, there's nowhere near the obesity either).

I reckon, a change of mindset and stop allowing kids to get lazy is what's needed.

And we should count our blessings that we live in such a beautiful part of the world and appreciate it more!

Di Stefano said...

The sporting facilities in Cairns are better than anywhere else in the Western world!

Is that what the Mayor told you Nick?

KitchenSlut said...

Well below was the response from Val when queried. Email queries to both the fund manager owner and Office of Liquor and Gaming on the status of pokie licences are unanswered after 2 days. I suspect the SMH report is wrong and the pokie authorities are still at the Court House (if not the machines?).

The last transaction on the Court House was in 2006 when ING Fund bought at a whopping $8.15million. This was just the freehold from the owner who maintained the lease which would have put the total site hotel business value at over $10million! This compares to Council knocking back a deal in 2005 at $5.5million although this depends on what specific values we are dealing with in hotel and property assets.

The property is currently on the owners books at $6.3million which is assumed to include 35 pokies so lets round some very rough numbers off?

$6 million sale.

$2million value recouped on latest results from sale of 35 pokie authorities.

$1million pokie sale commission and stamp duty which should be refunded revenue neutral by the state if they have any integrity left!?!?!?!?!

Split the rest on the proposed Council motion 50/50 subject to funding from State / Federal and the Council cost is down to $1.5million even on what I would regard as the hefty $6million book value in the current circumstances? If I am missing something KS always likes to know?

Sounds great value compared to the 'volcano' which is a project which worries me despite my mutual arts interest with Val and respect for the Festival Cairns outcome and seems more linked to the fact that in the current environment the CPA has cleared out the entire Cityport wharf area and has nobody lined up to do anything with it?

P.S. Notes on sport and fat kids from a friend: Barlow is very expensive to use – hence it’s not used. And Council won’t pay upkeep on fields like Endeavour Park and let the voluntary organisations that lease them pay for maintenance and upgrades. There has been a big argument over Endeavour as it is all needed for Junior soccer and cricket want half of it as they have no-where else to go… I believe Hockey is the same at North Cairns with the voluntary groups having to find the money for upgrades, etc. Fat kids and venues is just an excuse - Don’t see many fat kids in Peru and they have no sports grounds – they just get off their butts and PLAY!...

Thanks Mark

No, council has not had any further discussions with ING as we decided not to pursue the matter. I think it’s unlikely that Council would reconsider given the considerable constraints on actually utilising the building and making it economically viable. Val

Cr Val Schier
Cairns Regional Council

Nick said...

Di Stefano said...
The sporting facilities in Cairns are better than anywhere else in the Western world!

Is that what the Mayor told you Nick?

No Di, that's from personal experience. You don't know how good you have it here. I haven never spoken to the Mayor, so I am not sure what point you are trying to make.

Colin said...

Wow, this blog has certainly turned in the beaches branch of the liberal national Party: it's getting very like the cairns post it professes to hate. Back to the topic: the court house is about as suitable for a museum as my left gumboot. but it would be fantastic as an addition to the art gallery.