Another fire in the Broadway Hotel, next steps for Carl St

Dear residents,

We’ve just had an extremely busy weekend, packed with amazing local events including the East Brisbane Car Show, the Serbian Festival, great shows at Kurilpa Hall, the Sideshow and the Tanuki Lounge, and of course my personal favourite, West End’s Kurilpa Derby. These volunteer-run events are a powerful reminder of what we can achieve as a community when we work collectively and collaboratively towards a common purpose. Well done to everyone involved!

We also had some disappointing news on Saturday night, with yet another fire causing further damage to the State Heritage-listed Broadway Hotel in Woolloongabba. The 130-year-old hotel had been a community hub for many years before the first serious fire damaged it in 2010. Many of you will be aware that property developers Majella were applying to build a 27-storey tower next to the hotel (grossly exceeding the height limits and undermining the heritage values of the old buildings) and that the hotel was standing in the way of squeezing many more apartments onto this site.

I won’t speculate regarding this particular site, but I will say that the pattern of historic buildings ‘accidentally’ burning down when they become inconvenient for developers is sadly familiar to many Brisbanites, and is ultimately a result of a broken property system which encourages the treatment of housing as a commodity. If developers and property speculators are allowed to build highrises on the sites of heritage-listed properties, this creates a very strong financial incentive to burn down buildings or allow them to fall into disrepair.

Regardless of the exact cause of the fire, my view is that the owners and developers in control of the Broadway Hotel were not taking sufficient steps to properly preserve and secure the property, and the neglect of the building made it much more likely that it would catch fire or fall down. A lot of debris had been allowed to build up inside, and I’m told there were large holes in the roof which hadn’t been patched.

Apparently the State Government’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection had previously raised concerns with the owner about the condition of the property, but I’m told that after more windows and doors were boarded up, the department gave the owners a tick of approval, saying that the building was properly secured to the State Government’s satisfaction. The State Assessment Referral Agency (SARA) had already given the developer permission to demolish some parts of the hotel after they were damaged by a previous fire.

It’s important to understand that both the State Government and Brisbane City Council had a range of responsibilities and powers at their disposal to help preserve this building, including requiring the owners to make essential repairs “to protect the place from damage or deterioration caused by weather, fire, vandalism or insects” under section 84 of the Queensland Heritage Act 1992. Both levels of government will no doubt try to pass the buck and blame one another, but both are in fact responsible.

We don’t yet know exactly how much damage this most recent fire has done, but if it turns out that the building is now beyond saving, it will be particularly important that any future development of the part of the site on which the hotel was built is heavily restricted. Some have called for the hotel to be rebuilt according to the same designs as the original building. There’s perhaps also a case for building a new community centre that could include a range of services and facilities including a dedicated live music venue, homelessness support services and crisis accommodation.

I think it would be ideal if the State Government bought back the land to use as public green space and community facilities. There’s an acute shortage of public parks and community centres in this rapidly densifying part of the city, and this site is well located to be used for the benefit of the broader community rather than just more luxury highrise apartments.

Brisbane City Council should rezone part of the site as ‘Public Open Space’ and part of the site as ‘Community Facilities’, which would restrict the amount of for-profit residential and commercial development on the site while still allowing the land to be put to good use. I've created an epetition calling on the council to buy back the site, you can sign it here.

If a future owner is allowed to build highrises where the Broadway Hotel currently stands, this will encourage owners of other heritage buildings to allow them to fall into disrepair.

We’re organising a community meeting in the carpark next to the hotel for the afternoon of Saturday, 22 September at 4pm. You can invite friends via this Facebook event. I’ll keep you posted as we learn more details. 

 

Rally in Support of Multiculturalism

This coming Saturday, 8 September, I’m helping organise a rally against racism in King George Square in response to the increasingly racist and divisive rhetoric used by mainstream politicians and political commentators. First Nations peoples and new immigrants are being blamed and scapegoated for the failures of neoliberal capitalism. Politicians understand that people are frustrated about stagnating wages and wealth inequality, but rather than taking on the banks and the corporate sector, they are whipping up fears and insecurities to turn us against each other.

This racist rhetoric has a range of tangible impacts, including damaging the mental health of people who experience racism, and legitimising discrimination which makes it harder for people of colour to get jobs and training opportunities. We’re also seeing increasingly strict immigration and ‘border protection’ policies supported by both the major political parties, and an expansion of the prison industry which profits off the incarceration of marginalised people - particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

If you care about these issues, please come along to the rally and march this weekend. There won’t be too many speeches - we are predominantly featuring performance poets and singers. This is a positive, family-friendly march followed by a community meal in the square. If you’d like to bring along some food to share at the community meal that would be wonderful, but no pressure. Please spread the word.

Where: King George Square, Brisbane CBD
When: Saturday, 8 September, 11:30am to 12:30pm

Please wear bright colours. Bring a hat, water bottle, musical instruments and food to share if you can. Facebook event at this link.

 

Carl St Park Redesign

Also on the afternoon of Saturday, 8 September, we’re holding our next community design workshop to start solidifying ideas and options for the future of the park at the corner of Carl St and Tottenham St in Woolloongabba.

We received a lot of suggestions via the Buranda Parkfest a few weeks ago, and this weekend we’ll be going through all the feedback together and identifying key themes and priorities for the concept design.

Please join us in the park from 3pm to 4:45pm. If you think you’ll make it, give us a call on 3403 2165 or email back with ‘Carl St’ in the subject line to RSVP.

 

There are also several protests coming up this week regarding the Adani coal mine. The State Government has until this Friday to prosecute Adani for some very serious environmental breaches, and everyone is hoping our State MPs will do the right thing and ensure this mining company feels the full force of the law for their environmental vandalism. More details in the event lists below.

See you this weekend hopefully!

Cheers,
Jonno

 

Upcoming Events

SEP
05

You Decide: The People vs Adani

Wed, 05 Sep, 10:00am - 11:00am
Location

A dramatic, theatrical and just prosecution of Adani outside the QLD parliament house in a BIG FUN FINAL PUSH to demand that: Adani is prosecuted for breaking Queensland law AND in the middle of a drought, Adani is not allowed to extract billions of litres of precious water every year to run its dirty coal mine.  Facebook event ▸

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06

Flood The Parliament to Prosecute Adani

Thu, 06 Sep, 3:30pm - 5:30pm
Parliament House, Brisbane

FLOOD PARLIAMENT WITH PEOPLE POWER
• Powerful Speakers
• Legendary musicians (announced soon)
• BIG final message to Queensland Parliament   Facebook event ▸

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07

Film Screening: Prison Songs

Fri, 07 Sep, 6:00pm - 8:30pm
Bunyapa Park, Cnr Thomas & Vulture Sts

Come along to watch Prison Songs and listen to a panel of experts explain the issues related to Serco’s appalling record of human rights abuses and its tender to run Gatton Women’s Prison. Learn about the solutions our community should be investing in, instead of prisons.   Facebook event ▸

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08

Rise for Climate - Brisbane #PacificPawa

Sat, 08 Sep, 10:00am - 11:30am
King George Square, Brisbane CBD

The Pacific Islands are on the front lines of climate change. The Pacifica community will rise for climate by using the very things that make them uniquely Pacific! They will use traditional dance, song & storytelling to rise for climate. All are welcome! Family friendly action.   Facebook event ▸

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08

Rally Against Racism - Yes to Multiculturalism, No to Xenophobia

Sat, 08 Sep, 11:30am - 12:45pm
King George Square, Brisbane CBD

A positive, family-friendly public rally to say no to racism and imperialism, and yes to unity and multiculturalism. This will be a short rally and march, featuring poets and performing artists but not too many speeches. After the poetry, we'll be marching down Adelaide St to the Immigration Department building, then back up to King George Square.  Facebook event ▸

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08

Sharing land with wildlife – Land for Wildlife 20th anniversary art show

Sat, 08 Sep, 9am-4pm and Sun, 9 Sep 10am-3pm
The Old Friary, 139 Brookfield Rd, Kenmore Hills

This year the Land for Wildlife program celebrates 20 years of partnership with Council. Commemorate this milestone with an art show, showcasing creative artworks and photographs and inspired by Brisbane’s unique natural environment and what it means to be part of voluntary conservation. Register through Eventbrite ▸

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08

Springtime Spectacular

Sat, 08 Sep, from 6:00pm
East Brisbane Bowls Club, 38 Lytton Road

Get ready to party in the spirit of spring. Dance under the stars to Brisbane DJs leading the underground. Witness the wonder of our city's brightest talents, from gravity defying aerialists to sideshow specialties, interactive projection artistry, roving performers, delicious food and treats and ethical market stalls, all while supporting a great cause. Tickets via Eventbrite ▸ | Facebook event ▸

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09

Mess-Art-Opia II

Sun, 09 Sep, 10:00am - 2:00pm
Dutton Park State School

DPSS' family FUN day - get mucky, get creative, get happy! $10* at the gate for an all inclusive, low-tech, recycled, re-purposed, engaging MASSIVE 4 hours of mess, art & FUN!!  Facebook event ▸

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12

“Permaculture” including short presentation as well as a hands-on activity

Wed, 12 Sep, 6:00pm - 8:00pm
103 Jane St, West End QLD 4101 Australia

Design Skillz provides a free platform to hear and learn about various skillz existing in our neighbourhoods and to start a conversation around holistic sustainability. This month's topic is how permaculture principles are helping build more sustainable and connected communities.  Facebook event ▸

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13

Outback, Up Close: Stories of people and nature from Our Living Outback

Thu, 13 Sep, 6:00pm - 10:00pm
Veranda Room, The Fox Hotel, 71-73 Melbourne Street

Our Outback is one of the last large wild areas left in the world, and is home to fascinating native plants and wildlife. Hear first hand stories of people working to conserve nature in Outback Queensland and to celebrate the public launch of the Our Living Outback campaign. Tickets via Eventbrite ▸ | Facebook event ▸

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22

Community planting day: Turning bare lawn into native habitat

Sat, 22 Sep, 8:00am - 11:00am
35 Walter Avenue, East Brisbane

Local residents are organising to revegetate the traffic island at the intersection of Walter Avenue, Heath St and Hilton St in East Brisbane to create a small bush reserve that connects to the Norman Creek wildlife corridor. We will be planting shrubs and groundcovers and we would love a few more volunteers!   Facebook event ▸

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25

Reverse Garbage: School Holiday Eco Art Workshops

Tue 25 Sep until Thur 4 Oct
20 Burke Street, Woolloongabba

Educational and crafty eco-art workshops for kids. Choose from 7 themes: Make Your Own Pet - Masks & Headpieces - Diggers, Dumpsters & Dozers - Junkbots from Outer Space - Make Your Own Board Game - Mythical Creatures. Workshops run for 2 hours. Parents/Carers are free. Tickets $20/child via Eventbrite ▸