Old Burleigh Theatre poised for a renaissance

The Gold Coast community has had a big win with the owner of the iconic landmark The Old Burleigh Theatre poised to retain the historic façade in its multi-million re-development of the site.

Sydney-based Weiya Holdings has today (July 2) lodged a development application with the Gold Coast Council that incorporates significant community feedback after the company purchased the site late last year.

“We have listened very carefully to the community and we are very keen to incorporate that feedback into a re-development honouring the cultural significance of the Old Burleigh Theatre,” said Wei Wang, who heads the Australian-owned development company with a long history of residential development in NSW.

The re-development will include retention of the highly distinguishable “bookend” or façade on the front of the building, and incorporation into a majestic new 14-level residential and commercial precinct in the heart of one of Australia’s most sought-after beachfront precincts.

The re-development will see an architectural renaissance that will cement its iconic status on the Burleigh Heads foreshore for generations to come while acknowledging the site’s significance to the community.

If approved it will be the first ever adaptive re-use of a building with heritage elements on the Gold Coast.

Weiya Holdings enlisted the expertise of one of Australia’s foremost heritage architects, Brisbane-based Conrad Gargett, to come up with a plan that met community expectations to recognise the site’s significance.

“We were tasked with the role of integrating key architectural elements of the Old Burleigh Theatre that reinforce the cultural significance while at the same time creating a transformative project that will be a landmark not just for Burleigh Heads but for the Gold Coast,” said Conrad Gargett director John Flynn.

“We are very proud of what we have come up with and we look forward to working with the development team to bring this concept to a reality. We believe it is a very good community outcome.”

Fittingly, the concept plans will see the naming of the project as DE-LUXE – which pays tribute to the original moniker of the 90-year-old Burleigh Theatre building – a popular cinema and dance hall that was the epicentre of the Burleigh social scene from the 1930s.

DE-LUXE Apartments will comprise 14 levels, including a street-front retail arcade that pays homage to the building’s existing two-storey volume with the infusion of modern cafe and retail tenancies.

The corner site has direct frontage to Gold Coast Highway and is located next to the proposed Burleigh Heads light rail station. It will have a further three levels of basement carparking, which will be accessed via the highway.

DE-LUXE Apartments will bring 36 luxury apartments to the market, many of them offering expansive views across Burleigh Beach and north to Surfers Paradise.

The design of the new podium integrates and responds to the retained front Goodwin Terrace ‘bookend’ of the former 1955 theatre.

“This significant retained building provides a central entry to the new ground-floor retail and residential apartment lobbies. A colonnade of brick piers on the podium’s western façade further reference the original building,” said Mr Flynn.

The open ground-floor areas will allow the community to engage with a new public space that will be enhanced by interpretative and historical devices offering reflections of the past to keep the history of the site alive.

“These include images offering snapshots of our pioneering past, a motion picture screen detailing the theatre’s history and models highlighting the many phases of the building’s life over almost a century of change.

“Work will also be undertaken to enhance the existing façade including the reinstatement of the former theatre sign,” said Mr Flynn.

The developers will seek public input to receive old historic images for the story board which will tell the story of the arcade and the theatre over its 90-year history.

Andrew McLean, senior town planner at Saunders Havill Group, said the concessions made by Weiya Holdings were unprecedented.

“The developer has made considerable concessions at great cost to meet community expectations and we believe the final design truly recognises and pays tribute to the iconic nature of the building,” said Mr McLean.

“While deemed to be not of state significance, we recognise the Old Burleigh Arcade as an important piece of Gold Coast history, particularly for Burleigh locals, and we have made a commitment that acknowledges those strong links.”

Weiya Holdings is a Sydney-based company with extensive experience in land subdivisions and apartment projects in NSW and south-east Queensland.

DE-LUXE Apartments will be the company’s debut development on the Gold Coast.

Mr Wang concluded: “There is no denying that the Old Burleigh Theatre has seen a lot of change throughout its history and we believe our development is the latest chapter in that story.”

“The re-development of this unique site comes at an ideal time. With the Gold Coast still witnessing the effects of COVID-19, DE-LUXE Apartments will be a vital project that will stimulate the local economy, creating jobs both now and into the future.

“By ensuring that we retain key architectural elements of the past within this development, and by shining a light on its colourful past, the Old Burleigh Theatre will always be a part of Burleigh Heads and will be appreciated by generations to come.”