By Carl Pfieffer
Darwin RSL has revealed the first details of its vision to build a state-of-the-art facility located on the Esplanade, with development plans set to be tabled to Darwin Council within weeks.
President Steve Gloster said Darwin RSL was finalising a proposal to build a three-level venue on the site of the Cenotaph carpark at the edge of the Esplanade, featuring an underground carpark, ground-level café and a club area located on the top floor.
“To do the right thing by the members and the RSL we’ve got to look to the best spot to build a new club,” Mr Gloster told the NT Independent.
“By building at the Esplanade we can build it for families – the whole bottom floor will be a café.
“You’ll walk straight off the grassland (of the Esplanade) and into the café and the club will be on top of that.”
Mr Gloster said the facility, designed by Darwin-born architect Hully Liveris, would provide stunning views of the Cenotaph and Darwin Harbour and serve as a focal point for Anzac Day celebrations.
The Hully Liveris Design Company also designed the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens visitor centre.
It would be constructed over the existing carpark and would not consume anymore of the green space of the Esplanade, which is arguably Darwin’s most popular recreational area.
More than 6000 people have signed a petition to protect the Deckchair Cinema against the development, asking Darwin Council to instead convert the Cenotaph carpark into additional green space.
Darwin Film Society deputy chair John Schier said cinema patrons were worried about the volume of noise generated by a new RSL club.
“We haven’t had one member in favour of this, everybody is against it,” he said.
“It’s not that we are against the RSL, we are against any development on the Esplanade.
“The building will be hard up against the foliage and only 80 metres from the screen.
“We are worried about the issues of noise and interruption … we just can’t see how the two can co-exist.”
Mr Gloster said Darwin RSL had already held several meetings with Deckchair Cinema representatives and was “willing to work to cater for anything they require” should the proposal be successful.
“We’ve offered to put walls on their side there to stop any noise or light getting to them and we can close that side of the building for two hours while they are showing their movies,” he said.
“We’ll be operating from about 7.30am in the morning to 11pm at night and there will only be two hours that affect them.”
Mr Gloster said a decision had not been made if the new venue would feature poker machines, with the RSL aiming for the facility to generate other forms of revenue so pokies would not be required.
The RSL building on Cavanagh Street burnt down in June 2018 and will be redeveloped should the Esplanade project go ahead.
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