Wodonga Cinema Centre will contain flying car dealership!

I am proud to be bringing you the news that I have received confirmation, through unofficial channels, that when the proposed Wodonga Cinema Complex opens it will contain a flying car dealership. Some of you may think that this sounds far fetched so I’ll make you a deal, I’ll stop bullshitting about flying cars if Wodonga Council stops pretending that there’s going to be a Cinema Centre built any time soon.

It’s been over six months since Wodonga Council proudly trumpeted the latest proposal for a Cinema Centre in their CBD. Not just in their CBD, but in their very own car park! I’m quite sure that this headline project is doomed to failure.

There’s plenty of reasons why the Cinema project is a dud and I think that the ratepayers of Wodonga will end up wearing the cost of it for some time to come.

The first problem with this development is the location. Wodonga’s CBD is a mish mash of poor design already and this proposed development will only add to its erratic nature. The cinema centre will be neighbouring the City Offices, the civic centre and the library on one side of the road and a stretch of car parks on the other side of Hovell St. The proposed site is nowhere near Stanley St, where the Council has been trying to encourage the development of a Café strip, and will actually be competing with established businesses as it introduces its own food retailers.

The second problem with this plan is the state of the cinema business. Hoyts has been a basket case for over a decade and the CBD of Sydney has had the number of cinemas in the entertainment precinct of George St rationalised due to financial pressures. The impact that improved home theatre, Plasma TVs and DVD had on cinema since the late ’90s is nothing compared to what we see today with Bittorrent bringing new releases into peoples homes via the internet sometimes before the cinema release. Investing in a new cinema today ranks right up there with investing in Centro or MFS, so when this puppy flops what do you do with an eight cinema complex that can’t attract a tenant?

The final issue is that people in Wodonga already have access to a cinema, it’s in Dean Street, Albury. The Regent Cinema is a brilliant complex, from the vastness of Cinema One through to the comfy, if overpriced, seats in Gold Class. The Regent suffers the usual cinema crap, overpriced food and drinks and the smell of stale popcorn, but I can’t see how Wodonga will be any better. The Regent has a strong link to Village Roadshow, ensuring that it secures movies at release time and is able to show an arthouse program as well, any competitor will have to match this as it’s hard to see anyone waiting to see a new blockbuster film just to avoid driving from Wodonga to Albury.

According to Wodonga Council the developer for their cinema centre owns the cinemas in Griffith and Wangaratta, two towns where they had no established opposition. Also, the Wang and Griffith Cinemas appear to be independent of the major film distributors, which means that they are unlikely to be able to bring any competitive edge against the Regent. The other great attraction being touted for this project is an eighteen lane bowling alley, now I may simply be out of touch, but I didn’t realise that the present Wodonga Ten Pin was having trouble keeping up with the demand for this sport. If anything, Ten Pin Bowling alleys seem on the whole to be like cinemas, closing down all over the place.

The most damning thing of course is that despite promising that “An update will be provided shortly” there has been no more information about this project from Wodonga Council since June last year.

This proposed development doesn’t seem to be anything but an attempt to outshine Albury. If it gets off the ground it will be just one more piece of evidence that the Wodonga Council are spending too much time looking across the border rather than in their own backyard.

4 thoughts on “Wodonga Cinema Centre will contain flying car dealership!

  1. Sounds like the Albury – Wodonga rivalry is alive and well, Dave. Nothing like a bit of feuding between neighbouring towns, much like over here with Bright & Myrtleford (a town of utter losers!). Keep it going.

    As for the merits of the cinema complex maybe they need a ‘SAVE WODONGA ACTION GROUP”. They could get some tips from the hillbillies over at SAVE BRIGHT. I mean, if SB can make such a ruckus about something as innocous as a supermarket in a (heaven forbid) commercial zone within the existing CBD that looks like it’ll fit in just fine and is a massive improvement on what’s there now, just imagine how effective they’d be on an inappropriate development such as you have described.

    I’d give them a call, they’re geniuses.

    PS: Yeah, you have to wonder how viable the Wodonga complex would be. Still, if they get the site from the council for peanuts the developers will still make big $s. The Wang Man Mayor has got it all figured I’d say.

  2. I think you’ll find that the prevailing sentiment in Wodonga is that they deserve a cinema of their own, but I’ve yet to hear a compelling argument why. If, as has been suggested, the developers aren’t paying market rates for the real estate then Wodonga ratepayers are being dudded from the get go. If the tenant goes bust then it will be a white elephant almost impossible to redevelop into anything useful.

    People from Wodonga already come to Albury for their entertainment needs, be it pubs, clubs, restaurants or movies, a cinema will not overcome the other shortcomings in Wodonga’s CBD.

  3. If the city council is trying hard to help businesses in the city centre then why bag them. That’s what they are there to do.
    You will find that the city council will be very cautious on money that it spends and normally they would protect the interestes of a cinema from closing down by a use on the title. If it does close down then they could look at possible running it themselves as how many state theatres are run.
    The people in most cities need entertainment and a lively town and if that is what the city council needs to do then atleast they are doing something. Better that than a ghost town.
    The city councils job is to create jobs and money into the centre.
    Across Australia most councils are providing incentives for cinemas to be built. Same as sporting fields, churches and other businesses that benefit the community.
    So the people of the city should be proud that they are trying.
    I would like to see a feasibility study or something though to make sure that the cinema could sustain itself after some upfront subsidies.

  4. Sam, I may have some sympathy for your arguments if Wodonga was an isolated town without a cinema, but the reality is that you’d be hard pressed to find a single resident of Wodonga who doesn’t make the five minute drive from the Wodonga CBD to Albury on a regular basis.

    That being the case, it’s ludicrous to argue that the residents of Wodonga are somehow disadvantaged by having to go to Albury’s cinema. Also, at a time when Wodonga Council has had to offload its last big development because it’s not generating the income they expected, I would think that they’d be a little more careful in their choice of investments. I also don’t believe that local government has any place using rate payers money to compete with private operators.

    The bottom line is that if a cinema in Wodonga was commercially viable someone would have built one years ago. The fact that they haven’t should make the Council extra cautious about saddling the rate payers with more debt.

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