NORTHERN Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner this week unveiled a $100 million plan to rejuvenate the Darwin CBD and transform the city centre into a world-class tourist and cultural destination through a number of key priority projects.
"Darwin is the Capital of North Australia, and we must invest in it to provide a sense of significance. We need to focus our city on the beautiful Darwin Harbour and we need to cool the city down so we can make it more liveable and give it a stronger sense of place," Mr Gunner said.
The Chief Minister also highlighted the need to link the Waterfront to Cullen Bay in order to provide one continuous and connected city.
"It was made very clear at the economic summits that the time to enliven and reinvigorate the CBD is well overdue. The business community and community in general told us this and we are acting on it," he said.
Three Darwin CBD-transforming major projects have been earmarked as priorities, with all to begin during the current term of government.
"Budget 2017 has a $100 million down payment on this project. A lot of planning work is already underway with a lot more to go. We have to get this right," Mr Gunner said.
"We will be unveiling plans in November this year and we expect to start work on construction of parts of this project in 2017-18."
Mr Gunner said he was seeking to match the Territory Government's $100 million contribution with similar support from the Federal Government's Cities Deals. Mr Gunner said $100 million had been allocated over four years, with the first of the funding kicking in this financial year to begin the rebuild of State Square.
The three major CBD revitalising projects are:
1. Finishing State Square (Stage 1), including:
- Freeing up space and reducing a major heat generation source by undergrounding 400 carparks near the Supreme Court – with construction expected to start in 2017-18.
- Demolishing the Chan Building and moving the NTG computer centre- a three year project which must be carefully handled to protect the Government major computer centre.
- Building a Fine Arts Gallery in the State Square.
- Moving the bus terminal.
- Refurbishing the Old Reserve Bank – which will include updating the building and road parking area for tourist bus and cruise ship connections.
- Removing the old Naval Fuel Tanks, unlocking land for potential future development.
2. Moving Students and part of Charles Darwin University to the Darwin CBD:
- An interagency taskforce will be established to work closely with CDU to support its strategy for growth. This will include exploring opportunities around the housing of students and the location of some schools of the CDU in the CBD.
- This project could see existing buildings re-purposed for accommodation and learning facilities.
3. Museum at Old Hospital Site:
- A $50 million allocation towards a new museum, with work on stage one of the museum to commence in the 2019-20 financial year.
- A design tender is expected to be issued in June this year engaging design consultants to work on plans for the museum.