RSL IN $1M LOSING BATTLE WIN
Internal squabbles blamed for tower plan failure
A PROPOSED $45 million high-rise redevelopment of the Cairns RSL site on the city’s Esplanade is unlikely to proceed despite the organisation spending nearly $1 million on development approvals.
A rift within the RSL has led to subbranch vice-president Phil Warwick quitting the veterans’ welfare group in protest at the waste of money.
The project has been on the books for more than 10 years.
Mr Warwick sent a scathing explanation for his resignation to RSL members and blamed the failure of the project on the sub-branch’s board.
He said the sub-branch would never see a return on the $953,219 spent.
PLANS to redevelop the home of the Cairns RSL Sub-Branch into a 15-storey tower are dead in the water despite almost $1 million of members’ funds being spent on the project.
A battle over the $45 million project has torn a deep fissure within the organisation, with vice president Phil Warwick resigning amid claims the tower will never be built.
In a scathing parting salvo obtained by the Cairns Post, Mr Warwick placed blame for the project’s failure squarely on the shoulders of the subbranch board.
“The cost to the sub-branch to bring the (development application) to a state of readiness to date is $953,219 – not including $17,000 that renewed the DA until this year,” he wrote to members.
“We have seen not a brick, not a coat of paint for that expenditure.
“Sub-branch members will never see anything for the outlay of close to $1 million of their funds.”
Prime Constructions – lead contractor an all three of Crystalbrook Collection’s current hotel developments in Cairns – formally advised the subbranch in January it was terminating negotiations for the RSL redevelopment.
The scheme in its current form has existed since 2007, encompassing 10 floors of holiday apartments atop the century-old RSL club, which would extend over several storeys with a multi-level carpark beneath. Function and conference rooms, a gaming lounge, restaurant, bars, TAB, offices, board room and spaces for welfare, Legacy and other RSL support services also had Cairns Regional Council approval.
Mr Warwick said the subbranch would never be in a position to launch development in its own right.
“All the positive economic advice in the world will not change those facts,” he wrote.
“We now know the process that we embarked on to launch the DA wasn’t just inadequate, it was flawed.
“It is a sad state of affairs that we have reached this stage when the only viable option is to do nothing; sadder still when some are content that the development of this site (whether or not the DA is renewed) can be shelved.
“There is little appetite within the present board to pursue redevelopment.”
Prime Constructions, RSL Queensland and Cairns RSL Sub-Branch president Buster Todd did not wish to comment.
ALL OVER: Artist's impression of the Cairns RSL Club.