Until the 1970s, Townsville’s main street played host to wooden hotels such as the Alexandra and the Buchanan.
These colonial pubs with accommodation stood along Flinders Street alongside art deco shops and the majestic GPO building.
Flinders Street in September 1929, with the GPO on the left and the Alexandra Hotel on the right. Photo: Supplied
The Buchanan burnt down in the 1980s but not before finding fame after US President Lyndon Johnson paid a visit in 1966.
The Alexandra had already met its fate the previous decade – just one of many buildings demolished in the town centre to make way for the age of the automobile.
The hotel was eventually replaced by a retail arcade and adjoining car park, which remain today but in a rundown state.
However, a recent government move and the owner’s decision to sell the property could see that change.
The site is currently home to 14 separate tenancies. Photo: Supplied
That’s according to Graeme Russell, of Ray White Commercial Townsville, who has been appointed to sell 261-267 Flinders Street – a 14-tenancy property which incorporates the sites of both the Buchanan and the Alexandra.
Mr Russell believes that the Federal Government’s recent deal with the Singaporan government, which will see up to 14,000 troops posted to barracks in Queensland, including Townsville, is set to revive the city’s accommodation sector.
The site incorporates a mix of retail and food outlets, but zoning allows for a building of up to 20 storeys to take its place.
Along with offices and residential buildings, Mr Russell is tipping a new hotel development as a distinct possibility.
“Redevelopment is quite likely,” Mr Russell said. “There’s going to be future demand for hotel accommodation, after the Commonwealth Government struck a defence deal with the Singaporean government.”
Grand Hotels International, a Singapore-based group, recently purchased the biggest hotel in Townsville, the Holiday Inn, which has subsequently rebranded as Hotel Grand Chancellor.
Flinders Street today. Photo: Supplied
“That’s a sign of things to come … the site is grossly underdeveloped in its current state,” Mr Russell said.
“It used to be back-to-back colonial hotels with accommodation, and I think it will revert in a modern sense.
“It’s a good rectangular site, with two street frontage. It’s one of the best sites available in the city – close to everything from the cruise line terminal to the office precinct.”
Along with the defence deal, a new sports stadium resulting from a joint federal-state government commitment and the recent decision by the University of Central Queensland to open a new campus in the town will also revitalise the Townsville economy and trigger new private investment, according to Mr Russell.
“It is going to be a huge revitalisation,” he said.
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