DAYLESFORD’S iconic Rex Arcade will house a library, large office space, gallery and retain a small number of retail spaces under bold new council plans that see the Hepburn Hub partly located in the dwindling arcade.
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Hepburn Shire Council voted in confidence for a six week option to purchase the building The Rex for an unnamed sum. After a consultation process with residents, councillors will vote to approve the purchase of the building.
The new plan – revealed to The Courier on Monday – will see the Hepburn Hub located over two sites and will drastically reduce the changes made to the existing Town Hall, increase pool space and decrease costs, council says. The much-maligned Hepburn Hub proposal ignited anger among residents when it was first mooted in 2014. Residents fought against the plans, which were altered many times, fearing planned office spaces would destroy the Town Hall and were not sympathetic to Daylesford’s late 1800’s architecture.
Council chief executive Aaron van Egmond said The Rex plan minimised the changes to the Town Hall site because a planned glass office space, over a number of levels, would not go ahead. The plan would also alleviate heritage issues, Cr Kate Redwood said.
The planned glass laneway with exhibition space and break out area, downstairs visitor information centre, commercial sized kitchen and renovations of upstairs and downstairs existing areas would still be built at the Town Hall.
Mr van Egmond said housing the library in The Rex space would increase the library space by 180 square metres, increase off-season outdoor pool spaces from 650 square metres to 1000 square metres and alleviate parking concerns.
The new renovations would take between six and nine months to complete – compared to the proposed three-year town hall project, Mr van Egmond said. It would also save council and ratepayers more than $190,000 per annum. Leasing the retail space is expected to bring significant revenue.
Mr van Egmond said community concerns about The Rex owners closing toilets to the public had been the catalyst for the project. He approached the owners to discuss the possibility of opening the toilets to the public when the idea was born.
Council had previously explored The Rex as a potential hub site a number of years ago, but Mr van Egmond said changed circumstances had now made it a viable option.
Mayor Neil Newitt said the “exciting project” that would “deliver more bang for buck” for the people of Daylesford.
“The Rex is an iconic building in the heartland of retail. (This project) will retain and revive the site for the future,” Cr Newitt said.
Council is in the process of negotiating a new or changed location for the existing community cinemas with committee members.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated a permit would be actioned for 42 office spaces. This was a previous un-actioned permit by the current owners. Could would opt to include office spaces in the existing building.
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