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The Roxy today, as seen from the street. The Roxy today, as seen from the street. Featured
29 June 2019 Posted by 

COURT REJECTS ROXY REDEVELOPMENT

Venue set to reopen as nightclub
DI BARTOK
THE Roxy is set to reopen as a hotel/nightclub following the Land and Environment Court’s rejection of the owner’s plan to redevelop it into a 29-storey mixed-use development.

The Court’s ruling upheld the Sydney Central Planning Panel and Parramatta Council’s rejection of owner K Capital’s $96M plan that would see a commercial/leisure facilities tower atop the rear of the 1930s heritage-listed Roxy, revered as a rare example of intact Spanish-style theatre architecture.
 
Commissioner Susan O’Neill stated that it was “not possible to demolish a large portion of a substantially-intact theatre building and retain its heritage value as a theatre building”.
 
K Capital’s David Kingston is pragmatic about the decision, saying he still had Option B - to reopen the venue as a pub/nightclub, the business he ran from 2004 until 2014, when he closed amid controversy over the troublesome clientele.
 
But Mr Kingston said Parramatta had changed and his new business would attract different people.
 
“The Roxy was a bit isolated back then but now is in the centre of Parramatta, and with the universities in the city and more office workers, there is a need for a night-time venue,” Mr Kingston said.
 
Long Way Off
 
“While the development plans  would have been good for Parramatta, with cultural and leisure facilities, council and the Court chose to reject that.
 
“What they have chosen instead is to have a 24 hour nightclub.”
 
But Mr Kingston is a long way off from re-opening, with “outside cosmetic work” to be done on the Roxy building.
 
“What council doesn’t understand is a business has to be viable and, as the owner, I have to make business decisions.
 
“I already have my liquor and poker machine licences, so I don’t need any further permission to re-open the pub. I’m a patient man so I’m not in a hurry to re-open just yet.”
 
Mr Kingston said it would take a lot of work to restore the Roxy’s interior to its condition before Hoyts demolished much of it in the 1970s.
 
“It is not viable to restore it to what it was, or to turn it into a live theatre venue.”
 
Mr Kingston has always maintained that he does not want to destroy the main part of the Roxy. His heritage expert had put to the Court that the heritage value would not be diminished by his development.
 
Meanwhile, the decision has met with loud cheers from the Roxy saviours, the National Trust, council and Western Sydney Business Chamber director David Borger.
 
Mr Borger and Roxy Theatre Action Group president Robert Fox have called on the State Government to help fund restoration of the building into a live music venue.
 
For public use
 
Yet, how that can be done remains unclear, given the commercial value of the building, despite its heritage listing.
 
Mr Fox said he could see the Roxy becoming “like the Capitol Theatre in Sydney”, which had been restored to its former glory.
 
“I realise it would have to be the State Government, with perhaps some private interest, that would have to step up to restore the Roxy,” Mr Fox said.
 
“But at least it has been saved.”
 
National Trust NSW president Brian Powyer would like the theatre industry, governments and Parramatta Council sit down to work out how the theatre could be restored for public use.
 
“I realise it would be difficult but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen, as it did with the State and Capitol theatres in Sydney,” he said.
 
Mr Powyer suggested council could “arrange a land swap” with Mr Kingston, an option that has not been seriously considered by either party.
 
“The main thing is, a heritage building has been saved, when we are losing so much heritage in Parramatta,” he said.
 
State Parramatta MP Geoff Lee was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.
 
 
ROXY ROAD
• The Roxy 69 George St.
• Built in 1930s as picture theatre.
• Run by Hoyts before Village bought it 1970s.
• Bought by K Capital 2002.
• Developed into hotel 2004.
• Closed July 2014.
• Plans for redevelopment rejected 2018.
• L&E Court ratifies decision June 2019.
• Owner plans to re-open hotel.


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