Dis­tillery plans up in smoke

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

the height of the re ( the Royal‘s re­mains THE owner of Moss­man’s iconic Royal Ho­tel ad­mits to mixed feel­ings about its de­struc­tion in a sus­pi­cious fire last Thurs­day night.

De­vel­oper Rick Wil­liamson said he was shocked to re­ceive a phone call while in Townsville on busi­ness last Thurs­day night to be told the pub was burn­ing down.

Mr Wil­liamson bought the prop­erty in 2009 and had orig­i­nally planned to knock the pub down and build com­mer­cial premises.

But Cairns Re­gional Coun­cil sup­ported com­mu­nity protests about the build­ing’s her­itage value and im­posed a re­quire­ment for the ho­tel’s face to be in­cor­po­rated into any de­vel­op­ment on the site.

The his­toric Jensen house next to the pub was pre­served and re­lo­cated to Miallo while as­bestos cladding was re­moved from the pub and ef­forts made to se­cure the premises from itin­er­ants who reg­u­larly camped there.

Mr Wil­liamson said while his in­vest­ment had caused some ini­tial frus­tra­tion due to the her­itage re­stric­tions im­posed af­ter he bought it, he was in the process of sourc­ing a bou­tique dis­tiller to oper­ate out of the Royal Ho­tel and planned to build com­mer­cial premises ei­ther side.

“To be hon­est I haven’t thought about it (the Royal) much for the past six months be­cause I’ve been busy with other busi­ness in­ter­ests but I’d been re­search­ing putting a bou­tique dis­tiller in there,” he said.

“I could’ve kept the face of the old ho­tel and sold the prod­uct from there and use any sur­plus in my other busi­nesses and built shops on ei­ther side of it.”

He said he had no im­me­di­ate plans for the site now the re­mains of the ho­tel have been pulled down due to safety con­cerns.

Dou­glas Shire His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety pres­i­dent Pam Wil­lis Bur­den called for any new build­ing on the site to be con­structed in the same style as the Royal.

“The loss of the ho­tel is sig­nif­i­cant and the coun­cil should in­sist the same style of build­ing be in­cor­po­rated into any new de­vel­op­ment to re­store the streetscape,” she said.

“They re­quired it when the Court House Ho­tel in Port Dou­glas was re­built and also for the Rex The­atre in Cairns.”

Moss­man Po­lice De­tec­tive Sergeant Trevor Per­ham said the cause of the fire is un­de­ter­mined but the build­ing was un­oc­cu­pied at the time and there was no elec­tric­ity con­nected so it is be­ing treated as sus­pi­cious.

Any­one with in­for­ma­tion re­lated to the fire is urged to call Crime Stop­pers on 1800 333 000 or Moss­man Po­lice on 4098 2177.

Pho­tos by STEVE CRUICK­SHANK (top) and SOULA KAZA­KIS (bot­tom)

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