PLANS to reincarnate Hay Street’s Piccadilly Theatre were put on ice during a meeting of the Perth sponsorship committee on Tuesday night.
The art deco building housed Perth’s last inner-city cinema before falling into disrepair and closing down in 2013 when the lease-holder started missing rent payments.
It’s still vacant (although it’s rumoured to be haunted by the ghost of a former manager) and event promoter Brad Mellen hopes to restore some life to the historic venue.
Refurbishments are projected to cost over $3 million, so Mellen Events have asked Perth council for a 10-year sponsorship deal totalling $1.7 million, promising night-time activation of the Hay Street mall in return.
Mr Mellen is keeping details of the project under wraps to avoid “putting the cart before the horse”, but says it won’t get off the ground without council support; the lease agreement with the Malaysia-based owners will only be triggered if he can get backers signed on.
The committee went behind closed doors for deliberations on Tuesday night, with Crs Keith Yong and Janet Davidson moving to defer the decision.
If the Piccadilly gets up and running, Mr Mellen’s promising a “wide range of theatrical events” and hopes to initially attract 52,500 people across 75 shows each year, ramping up to 98,000 punters across 140 shows.
“I believe we’re very well placed to oversee the revised Piccadilly Theatre”, Mr Mellen said in a deposition to the sponsorship committee.
“I don’t think I need to outline to you the social benefits that come with activating that part of town at night.
“We’re not planning to compete with, nor can we compete with the big cinemas like Raine Square.”
While waiting outside the meeting room for a decision, Mr Mellen got caught in a terse head-to-head with another player in the entertainment industry, Miles Hull – who had attended to ask the committee some probing questions about whether the unusually high sponsorship would be extended to similar local businesses.
Mr Hull is involved with the restoration of Rechabite Hall on William street in Northbridge, which is also being resurrected as an entertainment and culture hub.
The sponsorship committee is expected to make a decision at February’s meeting.
by TRILOKESH CHANMUGAM