Cairns CBD set for arts and culture precinct after bold move by council
After years of talk, the Cairns CBD may get its own vibrant arts and cultural precinct with Cairns Regional Council voting to acquire the Courthouse Hotel.
Cairns councillors have united and voted for a bold bid to purchase the iconic Courthouse Hotel as part of a plan to transform the area around Abbott and Shields St into a vibrant arts and cultural precinct.
Mayor Bob Manning said the move was part of council's vision for Cairns "to be known as the arts capital of Northern Australia".
The heritage-listed venue has been on and off the market numerous times over the past decade and was most recently listed for sale by the ASX-listed Lantern Hotel Group.
Despite reports the company had entered into contracts to sell the property to a national hotel operator for an estimated $6.25 million, the sale was never completed.
That provided the window of opportunity for Cairns Regional Council to jump in and acquire it.
Cr Manning said the council "needed to act" on the opportunity to acquire the property due to its historical and community significance.
"We had intended to purchase the property through regular commercial channels but were never given the opportunity to do so," he said.
"That is why we have made this decision to implement our right to acquire the property for community use.
"The property adjoins two other heritage buildings - the former Cairns Public Office building, now inhabited by the Cairns Regional Art Gallery; and the former Mulgrave Shire Council building.
"Together, these three buildings represent a significant piece of our city's history and would provide an ideal location for the expansion of our cultural facilities.
"Most importantly, three of the city's heritage-listed assets will be retained in public ownership and available for the use and enjoyment of public and visitors alike."