Star Kingdom Investments - understood to be the family behind Brunswick Street's restored Village Twin Cinemas into New Farm Cinemas - has submitted a development application at 179 Elizabeth Street for a theatre/cinema complex seating 288 people and 'centre activities' including two ground floor tenancies and food and drink outlets at the current site of Heritage-listed Tara House - formerly The Irish Club - to be named 'Elizabeth Street Picture Theatre'.
The application for the seven-cinema complex has received no previous Council approval, however, the proposed building works have been submitted to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) on 16 June 2016 for approval and an Exemption Certificate was granted on 13 July 2016.
In its adaptive reuse of one of Queensland’s culturally significant buildings, the current proposal will replace the site's existing grand ballroom with a cinema and further seeks to "breathe new life into what was a previously under-utilised ‘members only’ (selectively appreciated) club" into a "semi-public commercial enterprise, thus enabling greater access to its beautiful heritage interior".
According to New Farm Village News, the Sourris family of Star Kingdom Investments has a long and distinguished history with the arts industries spanning three generations. Peter built and operated the Yatala drive-in with his son James, who then handed it down to his sons Peter and Stephen.
Illustrations by James Davidson Architect. Source: DA Brisbane City CouncilThe reactivation of the Elizabeth Street streetscape and the recalling of the splendour of its more glorious past, is the express intention of the new ownership, for and on behalf of whom the Application for Exemption Certificate is made. The recalling to the city of an authentic cinema-going experience, in a place of heritage value, integrated with a sought-after retail setting.
According to the documents, the required alterations and additions to the existing building comprises of:• The redesign and upgrade of the ground floor glazing and entries for equitable access to all levels.
Illustrations by James Davidson Architect. Source: DA Brisbane City Council• Alterations and additions to the first floor interior to accommodate for two new cinemas; one large cinema to the rear ball room and a small cinema to the front meeting room.
• The renovation of the ground floor into two separate tenancies for retail purposes. (Knight Frank Leasing)
• The renovation of the basement into one tenancy for retail purposes. (Knight Frank Leasing)• The redesign and upgrade of the suspended street awning and signage.
• The repainting of the front façade.
James Davidson Architect. Source: DA Brisbane City CouncilGround Floor
The existing 1897 ground floor façade of low significance (Refer to 3.2, 4.0) is to be restored by reintroducing and realigning key columns with those above. The original base plinth is reintroduced as seen in early photographs to instil a sense of continuity with the adjacent Hecklemann building.
New glazed entries are proposed for access to ground floor tenancies. Compliant step ramps from street level to the internal ground floor level are proposed to ensure equity of access. A new shared entry is proposed for the basement tenancy and the first floor to maximise use of the existing lift.
Source: Brisbane City Council DA, James Davidson Architect.
In order to accommodate for the change of use, a temporary dividing acoustic wall with curtain is proposed with high level scalloped windows to retain a visual connection to the entire ballroom ceiling.
In addition to this the upper rear lead light windows in the proposed cinema area are to be temporarily artificially back lit rather than naturally lit to achieve the required lighting levels. Within the cinemas new raked floor platforms are to be temporarily constructed to achieve the required sightlines for cinema viewing.
Ground floor and basement Elizabeth Street tenancies
The proposal by JDA creates two new tenancies to the front 1879 section of the building. According to the Conservation study, the ground floor and basement are of low significance.
The basement tenancy is proposed as one large space. The basement tenancy is to be accessed from the street and have an emergency access to the rear of the building. Remnants of the 1879 section of the building are to be enhanced, such as the upper arches to the street, the stone walls, exposed timber floor joists and beams to the basement interior.
Refer to Appendix 1, existing photographs. It should be noted however that the existing floor structure of the building will have to be assessed in relation to any change of use to the floor above and the extent to which retaining existing features of the timber floor structure will be determined as the project proceeds.
The proposed development of the subject land incorporates the reactivation of Tara House (The Irish Club) and seeks approval for a Theatre (Cinema Complex), Centre Activities (Function Facility, Shop, Food and Drink Outlet) and associated and ancillary uses.
About Tara House
The building was designed by Richard Gailey in 1879 and is considered to be of a Classicism Style. According to the Queensland Heritage Register, the building is a “cement-rendered brick building … with simple classical detailing, including an arcaded upper level crowned by an entablature and balustraded parapet”. Extensive alterations in 1927 were completed, including “major structural and interior work” undertaken, with the basement also “extensively refurbished”.
The building was originally used as a warehouse and later as the Irish Club, at the time holding a significant relationship with the Irish community and the Queensland Irish Association. In 1948 the building was officially named Tara House. In 2015 the building was sold, concluding its relationship with the Irish Club and at present is unused. Tara House is a State Heritage Place and a Local Heritage Place, recorded on the Queensland Heritage Register and Brisbane City Council’s Heritage Register.