Gold Coast City Budget Accelerates Plans for HOTA’s $538 Million Lyric Theatre

New plans reveal the development of a $538 million lyric theatre precinct on the Gold Coast, with the city council setting aside at least $1 million in the budget to fast-track this ambitious arts project.

Mayor Tom Tate announced that the primary goal is to create a business case for the proposed theatre at the Home of the Arts (HOTA), ensuring it is “shovel ready” for future state and federal funding opportunities. Councillors are now faced with a critical decision: whether to prioritize funding for much-needed refurbishments of existing buildings or to press ahead with the new theatre facility.

“HOTA has already received funds from the previous budget that remain unspent. This new allocation is simply a top-up,” explained Mayor Tate. “I asked council officers how much additional money is needed to make the project shovel ready so that I can advocate for state and federal funding. They indicated that we need one million dollars.”

The Mayor also confirmed that the Gold Coast City Council must decide whether to simultaneously release funding for essential improvements to older buildings within the precinct.

“We have set aside reserve funds to enhance the precinct,” he said. “The question is whether to commence these works now or to wait and relocate staff to the new Lyric Theatre once it is built. This will be a matter for councillors to discuss.”

The latest report on the new arts facility indicates that the 1800-seat Lyric Theatre will potentially include a conference centre. “The design for the new theatre building will need to integrate a link and renovation of the existing HOTA central building to ensure future connectivity,” officers noted. “However, the new building could be delivered as a stand-alone structure, leaving the existing HOTA Central unchanged.”

Renovation options for HOTA Central range from minor to major refits, including a new foyer, cafes, and bars, as well as upgrades to the existing 800-seat theatre and cinemas. The new Lyric Theatre, capable of hosting major productions like Frozen and Harry Potter, is projected to attract an additional 260,000 visitors annually, including 38,000 from Southeast Queensland and interstate.

Operations are expected to take five years to ramp up, with estimated returns of $35 million in accommodation and visitor spending. A modest refurbishment of the existing entertainment center without new construction would cost $8.5 million, but with additional features, the cost could exceed $17 million. Creating a new theatre ranges from $246 million to $538 million, depending on the inclusion of a new link between buildings and a major makeover.

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