EYESORE: Work will begin soon on the cinema site in Jonson St, developer Wingate has assured locals.
EYESORE: Work will begin soon on the cinema site in Jonson St, developer Wingate has assured locals.

Plaza site "will start seeing some serious activity"

BYRON locals keen to have their large cinema back - or just concerned at the ugly hole left by demolition crews at the site in southern Jonson St - "will start seeing some serious activity soon", says a spokesman for Wingate, the principal developer.

Activity at the site virtually halted following a rapid demolition of the main Palace Cinema building early last year, with nearby businesspeople and residents reporting they had seen no work taking place "for months".

The site, home to a new cinema and retail complex, has become an eyesore in that time, with rubbish accumulating around the scrappy security fencing and graffiti-covered walls.

Wingate encountered "unforeseen delays" last year, its managing director of property, Mark Harrison, told BSN.

But he said work would "commence as early as possible in the new year " with hopes for Stage 1 completion by Christmas.

Wingate, which has 75% stake in the joint venture Wingate Byron Property Trust with Azzura International Constructions, has appointed the Queensland builder Hutchinson to develop the site, Mr Harrison said.

Finding a builder the company was happy with was one reason for the delays, he said.

"Builders have been very busy because of the construction boom in Queensland. So it took us a while to get a reputable and appropriate builder," he said.

"There are only a few that are big enough for this job."

The presence of a high voltage electrical cable below ground through the property also slowed things down, Mr Harrison said.

"Hutchinsons can't begin excavating (for foundations and a planned underground carpark) until that is removed."

Further, approval was needed from NSW Rail to put "anchors" for the new building alongside the railway line at the rear of Stage 1's 5400 sq m site.

"Although the line is defunct, Railways treat it as if it was still live and we had to go through a long approval process."

Mr Harrison said Wingate was "absolutely committed to the project", which will create a nine-screen cinema, bowling alley, gallery and retail spaces.


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