30 workers, unprecedented scenes at $7.2 million CBD project
THE Gympie RSL Club's $7.2 million renovation is on track, with work expected to be completed by December 3, 2020.
As part of stage one, the Orchid Room will be extended, becoming the building's new top floor and the venue's hub.
A second entrance in Nash St is being opened and a lift will join the two floors.
The old building next to The Gympie Times office in Nash St has been demolished to make room for a multi-level carpark.
"It is a little bit daunting at the time because we are doing the renovations while we have no customers and going forward, normally you would have customers at the same time but we are lucky there is no customers and it is not interfering with our members," Gympie RSL Club CEO Steve Lancaster said.
"We are probably blessed by COVID-19 as it has forced us to close down. It has allowed us to do a lot more work in areas we would not have been able to do in work hours.
"We are working on our new foyer off Mary St, which will have a connection to the first floor off Nash St. We will have two foyers and there will be a lift off the ground floor administration area to the first floor. There will be stairs connecting the reception area in Mary St to the reception area in Nash St."
The previous set-up had the Orchid Room and Snooker Room upstairs, but under the new model the club is going to be reversed.
"Our main floor of the club is going to be upstairs, all on the one flat level, and downstairs will be the Steers Steakhouse, also a lounge area and the stage for live music," Mr Lancaster said.
"Where the pokie machines and TAB are located, that will remain the TAB but will be the designated sports area. That way they can enjoy having a flutter on the horses or watching AFL or NRL. We are accommodating for all our members and segregating it a little bit so they can enjoy the facilities of the club.
"The pokie machines will be located on the first floor (on Nash St) which is where our main lounge, a space of families with a children's area and bistro will be. There will be a number of gaming machines in our sports bar as well.
"The carpark will have two accesses, one off Nash St which will be down towards the club on the first level and then coming off Nash St drive up on the top level next to The Gympie Times and there will be parking on the northern end of the building. We are going from 53 carparks to 74, which is a good increase.
Mr Lancaster said that what is being built as stage one of the renovations, they are considering stages two and three.
"What we are building now can be easily added to or removed instead of demolishing big sections. That time is anywhere from 15-20 years, but it could be sooner or later," he said.
"Now with COVID-19, everybody is unknown, it makes it hard to predict what will be in the future. What we have known in the past is not going to happen in the future with social distancing. What the community and members will see when the renovations are finished is that we are catering for everyone."
Rubicon Design and Construct is handling construction with about 20-30 men on the worksite.
"Out of that number, 50 per cent are local and the project will have about 50-70 people at different times coming on with different trades," Mr Lancaster said.
"Rubicon try and source as many local trades people as possible. We have a number of local trades that have tendered for the work and the tender process is still ongoing.
"The club has asked the builder that where they can to use as much local trades as possible."
Mr Lancaster said the club took a "calculated risk" to start the renovations during COVID-19 and he was hoping they might find some gold buried.
"It was an unknown thing, but it is also a golden opportunity because of the shutdown, and it has worked in our favour," he said.
"It is a calculated risk because no one knows what the end results will be, but we are having little disruptions to our members and staff.
"They did find a boulder that was right in the way of the wastewater pipe and took them about four days to excavate."
At this stage, the RSL Club will open its doors under the stage three of the government's easing of restrictions on July 11 for 100 people to be indoor with social distancing.