Mudgee’s iconic Regent Theatre is set to be redeveloped with plans to transform the building into a 34-unit apartment complex.
Owner of the property, Cameron Scott-Fell lodged a development application with Mid-Western Regional Council on Monday.
Under the proposal, the 1935 art-deco facade will remain and features including the nursery and foyer restored while the rear of the building, including the theatre hall and stage, will be demolished to make way for the four-storey complex.
The new structure will include 30 one- and two-bedroom apartments and four apartments in the original building above the lounge, with provision for commercial space.
Mr Scott-Fell is familiar with the theatre, having sat in its seats as a child, and investigated the possibility of reinstating it.
“It was probably 18 months ago sitting across the road at the coffee shop and I said: ‘Gee, there’s got to be something we can do with that building’,” said Mr Scott-Fell, a builder developer, whose grandfather built several Mudgee landmarks including the clock tower.
“I did some research to find council had done a very exhaustive study here to see if they could reinstate it and I think the cost and viability of it to re-open it as a picture theatre just didn’t stack up.”
In 2012, Mid-Western Regional Council estimated it would cost $4.7 million to bring the theatre up to standards of a modern functional cinema.
The 986-seat venue has just one female toilet, is not air-conditioned and does meet fire regulations.
It has been the topic of much speculation since it closed in 2009.
The Property Shop director and marketing agent, Andrew Palmer said several independent enquires were made to restore the building in the four years it had been on the market however each found it would be too costly.
“I think sentimentally a lot of people in the community would have liked to have seen a theatre but the reality was it just simply wasn’t a viable option and we think this is a win win,” Mr Palmer said.
“It will bring the building back to its former glory and will be restored beautifully in keeping with the facade as opposed to watching it sitting there and decay.”
It’s believed the theatre, designed by architect Douglas Smith, is of heritage significance but is not State Heritage Register. A heritage conservation report has recommended a new colour scheme sympathetic to the style of the building.
Mr Scott-Fell said he is confident the project will succeed and is reassured by positive growth in the town.
“I think Mudgee is such a strong town, proximity to Sydney is helpful, there’s tourism, there’s mining, an airline about to start again, there’s all those positive signs – Moolarben’s been approved for extension,” he said.
The proposal will be considered by council staff before going to council for a vote.