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HomeIssue 17Government grant for Todd Tavern, Alice Plaza development

Government grant for Todd Tavern, Alice Plaza development

The Government has been briefed by representatives from Alice Plaza (at right) and Todd Tavern (above) regarding proposals to redevelop their sites, according to a spokesperson for Dale Wakefield, MLA for Braitling.
“Their interest was built on the economic benefits that the National Aboriginal Art Gallery would bring to the Alice Springs CBD,” says the statement in response to a question from the Alice Springs News about reports of negotiations between the two businesses and the town council.
“The then CEO of the Alice Springs Town Council was aware of the proposal and was briefed by representatives from Alice Plaza and Todd Tavern,” says the spokesperson.
“However, the town council subsequently rejected using the ANZAC Oval block as part of the art gallery precinct.”
The Department of the Chief Minister provided a $37,500 grant during the 2018/19 financial year towards the cost of producing a master plan and feasibility study for the Alice Plaza and Todd Tavern redevelopment.
The News is seeking comment from the Todd Tavern and the Alice Plaza.
UPDATE 6am November 8
David McWilliams, the general manager of the Todd Tavern, provided this statement: “At this point in time our plans are confidential and we will let you know in due course.”
UPDATE 11.50am November 8
Ray Loechel, speaking on behalf of Loechel Management which owns the land and the building of the Todd Tavern, says the current operators of the pub are leasing the land and the building.
He says Loechel Management has not been consulted by the government nor the lessees about any proposed developments.
The Alice Springs News is seeking an explanation from the government about the circumstances of the $37,500 grant it provided for development of the tavern and the Alice Plaza shopping centre, apparently in the expectation that the national Aboriginal art gallery would be built in the vicinity.
The owner of the shopping centre is reportedly the Scaffidi Group which owns the pharmacy in the shopping centre. The News has not been able to obtain answers from the group.
The Scaffidi Group’s website says: “While we work with a range of businesses, a core element of the Scaffidi Group is the United Chemists brand. We provide pharmacy services under United Chemists brand through licencing agreements or buying memberships.”
UPDATE 5.15pm November 8
The Master Plan for Alice Springs Plaza and Todd Tavern has been shared with the Northern Territory Government and was completed as per the Northern Territory Government funding grant agreement.
The contents of the Master Plan are commercial in confidence and cannot be shared at this time.
Strategic Communications and Engagement Team, Department of the Chief Minister
UPDATE 7.10 pm November 8:

Councillor Eli Melky says at no time has he received a copy from the NT Government of whatever has been produced with the $37,500 granted by the NT Government to the Alice Plaza and the Todd Tavern for drawing up development plans.



  1. Grandstand, ship lift, hospital quarters Alice, art gallery, how long do we have to suffer Gunner’s transparency?
    About eleven months, thank goodness.

  2. Alert bulletin from the National Centre for Disease Control: The Gunner government suffers from megalomania, a mental illness.
    • delusional fantasies.
    • inflated self esteem and overestimate powers.
    Not contagious and only know treatment is the isolation of the patients.

  3. OK, so now let’s understand this situation a little more fully.
    The Todd Tavern, notwithstanding its distinct architectural value, has for decades been a major source of the grog strife and associated anti-social and crime problems of Alice Springs.
    This hotel has long been a major cause of why people don’t venture much into the north end of Todd Street and Mall for many years.
    The Alice Plaza (originally Ford Plaza) is the town’s great white elephant – from the time it commenced operation it has been effectively subsidised by taxpayers who, through a range of Commonwealth and (mostly) NT Government agencies, have paid rent on most of the upper level and (at times) for retail space on the ground floor, too (PowerWater, for example).
    Despite the massive taxpayer support this building has received for three decades, and no less than four major redesigns over that period, the Alice Plaza has never been a successful development.
    When the Alice Plaza’s construction was underway in 1986, the building’s architect declared “the new full mall for Todd Street and the Ford Plaza will be an asset for tourism in Alice Springs” (Develop or die, Centralian Advocate, 18/7/86).
    The building’s various owners, the NT Government and the Alice Springs Town Council have been struggling to make this massive miscalculation succeed ever since.
    There is no evidence whatsoever that either government (at both tiers) or the commerce sector have any idea – let alone expertise – to rectify their colossal blunders.
    They just keep coming up with more hare-brained schemes and projects to throw more taxpayers’ dollars at, always with the promise these “investments” will lead to pots of gold at the end of a rainbow and we’ll all live happily ever after.
    No major project undertaken during the history of NT Self-Government, either here in Alice Springs or the Territory as a whole, has come anywhere within cooee of such siren promises.
    Rather, we’re going backwards and the pace is worsening.
    However, the property holders continue to do nicely out of being endlessly funded at public expense, regardless of which major political party holds power in the Northern Territory.
    And now we’ve got a Labor Government spending more taxpayers’ dollars for the benefit of the wealthiest hoi polloi of our town to help them get out of the mess of their own making.
    Never has so much been paid by so many to so few in the history of Alice Springs.
    This is what “responsible Self-Government” has come to mean, and it is a disaster.
    Let the wealthy property holders finance their own solutions, they should not be continued to be propped up at public expense.
    Let the wealthy property holders face the responsibilities and consequences of their own poor investment decisions; and should they go under – well, that’s the reality of free market forces.
    It is not the duty of government to endlessly spend scarce public funds to save the rich and privileged from themselves.
    It’s long past the time when this situation should be called out for what it is – enough is enough.

  4. The Todd Tavern (originally the Riverside Hotel) is another historic site and building that is going to disappear, another nail for Alice’s coffin.
    This hotel has had various owners and various names, yet it remains the oldest hotel still in use in Alice Springs.
    The original building on the site, built about 1918, was a store. In 1951 an application was made for a licence for the “Riverside Hotel” and was granted on condition that the hotel be built by 1954. Nevertheless it was to be 1958 before the hotel was completed.
    Designed by architect Beni Burnett, delays to the building were caused by both Burnett’s death and that of Jim Richards, the local builder who died in a fall working on the Flynn Church. The hotel was eventually finished by Joe Kilgariff. The verandas were added in the 1970s.
    Two historic buildings, the Turner House and the Stuart Arms Hotel, disappeared to give way to the Ford Plaza when in 1986 bulldozers moved in.
    The Old Alice was dead and this was the first nail in the coffin.
    In 1987 the second nail came – Marron’s Newsagency.
    The third nail is Anzac Hill School.
    Soon the coffin will be sealed and we will bury Alice.

  5. Thanks to Alex Nelson for saying so clearly what many think. The demise of Alice Springs is a typical example of Aesop’s fable of the Frog and the Ox. Successive governments made and still make the same error.
    “The old frog kept puffing herself out more and more until, all at once, she burst.”

  6. And now it becomes clear the obsession the NT Government has had all along with their demands for Anzac Hill site for the National Aboriginal Art Gallery. It has been about the CBD – and these two land owners in particular, not the small enterprises.

  7. Why is the poor broke government going to waste funds on a privately owned business?
    Other privately owned businesses are not allowed to ask for assistance.
    Wasting money is the thing this government is best at and will be remembered for.
    So many other worthwhile things they could have done for our town during their term of office.

  8. As with the accomodation proposal for hospital staff, this is all accountancy talk – dollar yield per squ metre rather than communal good.
    On this basis beware Adelaide House and Flynn Church because you are next, and you don’t pay your way. Definitely uneconomic in accountancy terms, and the same applies to the Alice Plaza.
    I still hear talk of the old Bull Bar in the Stuart arms which was an Alice institution.
    I have the remains of that institution in the form of a load of bricks re invented as a toilet wall in my back yard and a sign inviting tourists to come in and inspect what’s left of our history – a great lure, and the only sign left.
    Hospital staff facilities?
    The bus which brings in sick people from communities has to drop them off at the Ross Hostel and they have to walk to the hospital because the bus cannot negotiate the emergency entry. Which comes first?
    Dollar returns per square metre vs community good?
    That’s the way it has been for years (but others call it greed), or self interest.
    Now we have a group of potential food investors coming here to look at rural investments in a time of approaching food scarcity but no research to show them because what could have been a first class facility in arid zone research is now covered with houses (and a bare piece of earth calling itself a drain) and the research is being done elsewhere.
    There could have been a world class German solar research facility on the airport land 30 years ago but once more no one bothered to chase it up.
    So the quick dollar mentality goes on and will no doubt continue to do so.

  9. The northern end of the Mall has been in the process of revitalisation in recent times with the opening of The Goods and The Bakery, joining Piccolos, as a growing precinct, along with the Megafauna Museum. This is small business reflecting the country town that makes Alice Springs a liveable place.
    Meanwhile we have a government bent on subsidising large landholders such as those that control the Plaza.
    Presumably the Plaza owners are facing down the barrel of Target pulling up stumps because – frankly –hardly anyone shops in the Plaza. It is largely home to various government departments which massively subsidise the same property owners now with their hands out.
    Of course it is “commercial in confidence” because it wouldn’t pass the average pub test, not least the owners of the Todd Tavern who also have lined their pockets with government money.
    The Plaza, of course, was a white elephant from Day One – an architectural monstrosity now joined by the totalitarian edifice of the Supreme Court.
    God knows what is proposed about the “redevelopment” of the Plaza but, short of a bulldozer, it doesn’t bode well.
    Any major rebuild will cripple small businesses in the northern end of the Mall.
    So much for support to the CBD.

  10. Just build the art gallery on the Target carpark. It’s a pretty big space and build them a big underground car park. Sorted. Hurry up now. Jeez, not hard at all.


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