The new owners of Potts Point’s iconic Metro-Minerva theatre building are planning a $50 million redevelopment of the site, which will likely include a boutique hotel, restored auditorium, and multiple performance spaces.

I’ve written before about the fascinating history of the Metro-Minerva theatre on the corner of Orwell Street and Macleay Street in Potts Point – an architectural icon that’s played a leading role in Sydney’s theatre history.

And local residents know all too well the impact that first lockout, and then lockdown, has had on our nightlife scene. So, it was exciting to learn that a new phase of life is on the cards for the heritage-listed Minerva, with a planned redevelopment by its new owners, Central Element.

I recently sat down for a chat with Wayne Chivas, Director, Central Element, to find out more about the future plans for the Minerva.

Hi Wayne, so tell me, what are some of the highlights of this exciting development project? What will the new site look like and include?

The biggest highlight is that this treasured building will finally be open to the public after being vacant and closed off for so long!

The Minerva will take on a fresh new starring role in the community – it will still incorporate multiple performance spaces, which it is famous for, but also have 63 hotel rooms of international standard.

Two venues are proposed within The Minerva, which will return public audiences to this much-loved heritage building and introduce a dining and entertainment experience that is missing in Sydney and Australia. The Minerva’s historically significant Auditorium provides an adaptable performance space, which can be tailored to a wide range of performances including cabaret, live music, comedy, and events.

Minerva Auditorium

The multipurpose entertainment space proposed in the basement provides an alternative black box venue option with the flexibility to cater for several uses, including conferences, fashion events, performance rehearsals, comedy, and live music.

And of course there will be a choice of food and beverage offerings. Our vision is to create spaces you are welcome to enjoy all day at your leisure, regardless of whether you are staying in a room. You could enjoy breakfast in one of the restaurants, have a lunchtime meeting in the lobby, a pre-show cocktail in the bar, and then see a show in the evening.

From the outside it won’t look hugely different – it will be given a face lift and we will restore the heritage signage and materials around the entry. It was important for us to retain the iconic façade – it is heritage listed and a great example of art deco architecture. Inside, again we will be reinstating the key features as well as an eclectic and modern palette.

What benefits do you feel it will bring to Potts Point locals?

Our developments focus on how we can enhance a neighbourhood – pay our respects to its past and create something that will seamlessly enrich the local community. The Minerva’s doors will be open to everyone. It will breathe new life into a part of the community which has seen little activity in the adjacent park and building for decades.

The proposed hotel’s ongoing operation will provide consistent revenue for the area and assist in stimulating economic recovery. The hotel alone will bring over 30,000 visitors to the area per year and an Economic Impact Assessment by Urbis concludes the new Minerva will bring an additional $2M + in retail spending to the local area and its businesses each year. It will deliver 100 full-time jobs once open.

How will the redevelopment honour the building’s unique history?

Honouring the building’s unique history has been a pivotal part of our planning, not only by reinstating key heritage listed features, but how we continue to celebrate its past once complete. We want to retain the soul of the existing building and respect its past but look to how we can build on that. This building is steeped in memories of cultural experiences and live performances – it was essential we kept that alive as best we could. We owe it that, after being vacant for so long!

All heritage features, including the original horsehair roof, proscenium arch and auditorium, art deco washrooms and heritage stairs will be retained and conserved for future generations to appreciate. Additionally, the proposed boutique hotel’s interior design will highlight and celebrate the building’s heritage assets and cultural history, to offer a unique guest experience.

Central Element is also renovating the former Academy Twin Cinema at Five Ways Paddington? Can you tell us more about that?

We are particularly proud of our development in Paddington where we are creating the first 25hours Hotel in Sydney. It is also an ambitious restoration project, where the dilapidated West Olympia Theatre is being transformed into what will be one of Sydney’s leading lifestyle and leisure precincts. The 107-room hotel will include multiple dining and entertainment venues, a bathhouse, boutique retail, and live music and entertainment facilities.

What’s most exciting about this project to you, personally?

My father was a famous tenor in his day and most likely sang on the stage, so personally, I’m most excited about seeing a performance there. I also look forward to seeing the completed look – more than anything we have tried to be visionaries and push the boundaries of what’s achievable.

Thanks for the chat, Wayne. Pending DA approval, the redevelopment is scheduled to be completed in 2024. Keep your eyes on for updates.

If you’d like to make the vibrant eastern suburbs your home, get in touch with our team today.

Article by Jason Boon

In a real estate market that is the focus of Australian, and indeed worldwide attention, Jason Boon's results in the Sydney scene make him a highly significant figure within the industry. A long-term specialist in the Potts Point and inner eastern suburbs area, he is uniquely placed to leverage his skills and local knowledge as the area undergoes significant change and diversification. Jason ha…