MEDIA RELEASE – Proposed Luxury Hotel at Jervois Park


 

The Darwin Film Society (DFS) wishes to clarify its position on recent developments regarding the proposed luxury hotel at Jervois Park, next to Deckchair Cinema. Deckchair Cinema is operated by the DFS, a community group which returns all profits to the cinema and community.

 
Last week the Jervois Park hotel developers showed DFS representatives a model of the final plan for the hotel. This new information, together with recent indications that the current government seem set to approve this tender above others, motivated us to inform our members yesterday that the odds that a luxury hotel will replace Jervois Park are rising rapidly against us.

 
While we appreciate the Jervois Park hotel developers’ efforts to hear out the DFS’s concerns and give us a clear idea of the final proposal using the model, we remain concerned about the proximity of the proposed development to Deckchair Cinema.

 
We had hoped that the land recently released from The Toga Group would mean that the proposed hotel would move to this newly available land, or at least a meaningful distance away from Deckchair Cinema – “meaningful” in this case meaning based on consultation and negotiation with the DFS, and ideally members of the local community who oppose the loss of Jervois Park, a popular area for picnics, fishing, dog-walking, exercising and other recreational activities.

 
Upon seeing the final proposal we did not feel that the hotel had been moved a meaningful distance away from Deckchair Cinema, but had instead ‘spread out’ to include both most of Jervois Park and a portion of the Toga land. As such we do not see that the potential synergy that exists between our two parties can be realized to its full extent.

 
We would like to formally assert that the DFS does not oppose a hotel proposed on the land recently released from The Toga Group, or a hotel located a meaningful distance away from Deckchair Cinema. Furthermore, we can envisage exciting opportunities arising for Deckchair Cinema and the Darwin Waterfront in general with a new luxury hotel in the area. However we feel we cannot condone a luxury hotel in the site currently proposed.

 
We feel that Deckchair Cinema is threatened by the proposed hotel in its current location by the following reasoning: Deckchair Cinema is a complex and expensive operation which has high fixed costs, thin margins and a limited, seasonal opportunity for profitable operation. It is a self-funded community organisation without government backing, to remain viable it must retain a small profit from its annual turnover of 0.8 million. Accordingly, the DFS is painfully aware that the operation is vulnerable to insolvency from any external shock that reduces audience appeal or inhibits access to the cinema.

 
Possible disruption to access, outside noise and light are likely to result from a major adjacent building project both during the construction period and project completion period, and are not compatible with an outdoor cinema experience. Even with best intent of the neighbouring hotel operators, the committee cannot determine if Deckchair Cinema will be able return to sustainability after completion of the hotel.

 
We have presented feedback on the final plan to both the Jervois Park hotel developers and the Chief Minister’s Office. The DFS has always been opposed to the idea of a hotel replacing Jervois Park, and we have informed both parties that if the hotel does not move a meaningful distance from Deckchair Cinema, we will take action.

 
At present we are allowing reasonable time for a response from both parties. We will take a continued lack of response as a response in itself, and launch our campaign accordingly.