Century Venues hope $11.5 million can be raised from the government, private and community sectors to fund the restoration of Newcastle's iconic Victoria Theatre.
A development application lodged with City of Newcastle details plans to preserve as much of the building's fabric and heritage values as possible while providing flexibility and accessibility for artists and audiences.
Enhancements to the existing design include a tiered flat floor, an open foyer, reinstating the balcony over Perkins Street and a new stage tower enclosure.
"Compared to the investment required to build from scratch a facility of this scale, offering up to 1,000 capacity, the revival of The Victoria is incredible value for money. It is low-hanging fruit in terms of returning to use a unique and highly desirable piece of our cultural history, quickly and affordably. While Century's acquisition of the building means it is secure, the theatre has a long way to go before becoming an operational live performance venue," said Mr Khoury said.
Century Venues, which has spent about $750,000 on the building to date, will commit about $2million to the restoration fund and it hopes governments, and the private and communtiy sectors will help make its plans for the building a reality.
The company is optimistic the funds can be raised well within the five year period that the development application remains valid.
Consultant Daniel Ballantyne said Century was prepared to place the building into a not-for-profit trust to enable pursuit of all potential fundraising opportunities.
"This will also ensure this great cultural asset is protected in perpetuity for the people of Newcastle and the Hunter," he said.
A business case for the project argues the theatre has the potential to fill a niche that exists larger theatres, such as the Civic, and several smaller venues.
"There is a huge demand for mid-sized theatres, especially in the music industry, comedy and smaller live performance," Mr Ballantyne said.
"This will have 1000 and we will typically operate between 400 and 1000. That is a niche that transforms live performance from being loss-leading in a hotel or pub situation to being able to stand on its own two legs commercially and financially."
"The business case emphasises the hidden demand in Newcastle and the Hunter more broadly."