START: The Ipswich Showgrounds site will be transformed into a convention and exhibition centre.
START: The Ipswich Showgrounds site will be transformed into a convention and exhibition centre. Contributed

First work starts on $65m show upgrade, convention centre

WORK has started to build a landmark $65 million convention and exhibition centre atop the Ipswich Showgrounds hill.

Stage one of the project includes preliminary design and planning work, which is hoped will eventually lead to the construction of a major convention centre.

Condev Construction has been appointed to undertake the first stage, a $6 million upgrade of the historic Ipswich Showgrounds.

The proposed refurbishment work is aimed at creating a new venue for Ipswich to cater for key events such as home shows and expos.

The project will focus on extending the existing exhibition display pavilion and main pavilion buildings with works including new commercial kitchens, amenities upgrades, new roofing, passenger lift, remedial concrete slab works and an external terrace area.

The two existing buildings will be joined by an awning structure running from east to west for the full length of the buildings.

It is also earmarked as an emergency evacuation centre for the city during crises such as floods and will be able to accommodate more than 300 people as an emergency evacuation zone.

The total cost for all stages of the project is expected to be upwards of $65 million.

Stage one of the project received $8.9 million in funding from the Australian Government.

Work on the Ipswich Showground upgrade started after this year's May show.

Ipswich Show Society vice president Darren Zanow said the team was "very excited" for work to start.

"The committee is looking forward to seeing the end result," he said.

The show society will miss out on an extra $2.9 million promised by federal Labor, which was defeated at last month's federal election.

Mr Zanow said the lack of cash would not affect the early stages of the showgrounds upgrade project.

He said talks would be held with state Member for Ipswich Jennifer Howard and Minister for Development Cameron Dick in an effort to fill the $2.9 million funding hole.

Condev executive chairman Steve Marais said the project would be an exciting one for Ipswich.

"The Condev team is committed to delivering this vital infrastructure that we believe will do the city proud by contributing to the exceptional growth that Ipswich has experienced in recent years," he said.

"We are thrilled to have been chosen to deliver it for the local community."

Condev expects to finish the showgrounds redevelopment in December this year.



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