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.

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