Plans to reopen historic Sydney Theater as part of hotel development


Plans have been revealed for the restoration of the historic Metro-Minerva Theater at Kings Cross in Sydney as part of a boutique hotel development that would include a series of performance spaces.

Opened in 1939, the Art Deco-style venue ceased operations in 1979 when it was converted into a market and then offices for film production company Kennedy Miller.

In 2019, Kennedy Miller sold the building to developer Abacus Group, the site having development approval for office use and a height limit of 22 meters.

Fearing the historic building might be lost, a community campaign to save it from redevelopment saw the building added to the state heritage register in December 2020 as a rare example of a ‘functionalist’ style theater in-between. -wars.

Developer Central Element subsequently purchased the site in early 2021.

With TZG Architects having been engaged, a design was released that proposes the construction of a boutique hotel alongside the preservation of the historic features of the building, including the horsehair ceiling and the proscenium arch. ‘origin.

With a development request for the proposal submitted to the City of Sydney, Central Element Director Wayne Chivas said the building’s heritage significance was one of the main reasons the company took over the site, commenting “like the community at large, we are delighted that the building is now heritage-listed and look forward to honoring and protecting the history of the building and its important cultural heritage.

Chivas said the interiors of the public spaces would incorporate interpretive displays on the building and its history and that the main auditorium would be restored to allow for a mix of hospitality, live music and cabaret offerings.

However, Minerva Theater Action Group (MTAG) spokesperson Brandon Martignago said that although he praised the design, the site was not suitable for a new hotel and that he was not convinced by the representation spaces offered.

Martignago noted “It’s a beautiful design, they did well to cram a hotel into this large theater space.

“The design pays homage to the theater, but for us that doesn’t cut the mustard. “

MTAG is advocating for the venue to be restored to a 1,000-seat theater, supported by the Government of New South Wales and the City of Sydney. A feasibility study funded by both levels of government in 2020 found that there is commercial interest and that it would be operationally viable to reopen the cinema.

Martignago, who also heads local business group Potts Point Partnership, said a theater would help create a vibrant 24-hour neighborhood comparable to London’s Soho, while a new boutique hotel n was not necessary in an already saturated market.

He said the performance spaces described in the current proposal were unlikely to be logistically or financially viable, and more akin to a “piano in the David Jones cosmetics section”.

Central Element said in a statement that it had tasked Arup to assess the building’s requirements and constraints if it was to be renovated into a functional theater with a capacity of 1,000. He said construction constraints limited seating capacity to less than 700 and having a solely dedicated theater would not be economically or technically viable.

The company also said it was dedicated to “maximizing the creative and efficient use of the building in line with the community’s demand for more entertainment and cultural venues in Sydney.”

If the development request is approved, the developer plans to reopen the Minerva in 2024.

Images: Concepts for the restored Minerva theater by TZG Architects.

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Nigel benton

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Nigel Benton is co-owner and publisher of Australian leisure managerst, Australia and New Zealand’s only magazine for professionals in all areas of the leisure industry. After establishing the magazine in 1997, soon after moving to Australia, it managed to grow its readership to over 11,500 and its acceptance as an industry journal for professionals in water sports, attractions , entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport and tourism. and places.

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