Council offers $5 million lure for convention centre
TOOWOOMBA Regional Council is trying to lure private investors into building a convention centre in the Garden City by offering $5 million worth of land in the centre of town.
The Chronicle had exclusive access to Freedom of Information documents which analysed the feasibility of building a convention centre in Toowoomba.
The documents show council is willing to give a $5m parcel of land on Herries St free of charge to a company that will pay the $30m price tag to build a convention centre and hotel.
Council went to the market to gauge interest last year but shelved the project after little was shown.
But Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio said the offer still stood.
"It's absolutely still on the cards," he said.
"What we are looking for is an investor to build a multi-purpose centre.
"What we initially thought was that maybe someone wanted to build a hotel and at the same time we would work to deliver a convention centre.
"It would have to be considered by council but that's the general concept."
The site in question is a 10,000sq m space bounded by Hume and Julia Sts.
The temporary Julia St car park and council-owned residential properties currently occupy the site.
Documents show council has offered to provide the site at no cost to help facilitate the development of the new facility.
The land is valued at $500 a square metre or $5 million in total.
KPMG research estimated the cost of the centre to be at least $30.4m with the hotel component to cost $10.13m and the centre $10.48m.
Council thinks any centre will run at a loss.
With an estimated 36,300 attendees expected to attend 216 events a year and each paying $100 - $130 the convention centre could make $2.5m - $3.5m a year.
The hotel would make about $1.3m profit annually given rates are steady at $105 to $228 a night in Toowoomba and occupancy rates at 56%.
Cr Antonio said one of the next steps in attracting people to the city was building a convention centre.
"It's not just a dream, it could be a reality."
He said other cities had been assisted in building their centres with Federal Government funding.
"We haven't had that kind of support but our hand is up for that," he said.