Plaza brings a touch of class
‘Are we really in Meekatharra?’ was the comment most frequently heard on the evening of 26 September when locals from the tiny Western Australian town, attended an art exhibition and cocktail party held in the newly opened ‘Meekatharra Plaza’ – a milestone event for the town.
When the Lloyds supermarket closed its door in the late 1980s, no one knew what would become of the building that had been an historic part of Meekatharra for forty years.
As time went by vandals destroyed windows and doors and defaced the walls. The boarded-up doors and windows left the section of the street with a neglected and derelict air.
In 2011, Shire of Meekatharra purchased the near derelict building and the next several years were spent creating a vision, finding funding, fine tuning it and finally bringing the project to fruition.
Community consultation was undertaken along the way to settle on a use of the visionary building and many years of planning went into determining the eventual design.
Federal Government funding was sourced and $500,000 was allocated from the Building Better Regions Fund, another grant for $500,000 from Lottery west, and the remaining $1.5 million funded from Council reserves.
For much of the build, the site was shrouded in mystery and many locals formed their own opinions of what the facility would eventually look like.
Most were very pleasantly surprised, a few astounded.
The final design was revealed as a glamorous space shared between the Community Resource and Visitor Centre, Meekatharra Museum, and conference centre. Retail shops, a café, and a hairdresser give added amenity to a building worthy of the time and money spent on it.
The new build contains features that showcase the history and elegance that had long been in hiding.
Original concrete floors polished to a high shine, with 60-year-old cracks still evident in places, tell their own story.
A dilapidated paling fence in the rear of the property was used as facia for cabinetry in the café and hairdressing salon, giving a welcoming hug from the past.
Finding long term tenants may be the next hurdle to overcome, but if the wonder of locals at the Grand Opening cocktail party and art exhibition event were anything to go by, the facility already holds a dear place in the heart of the community.