The City of Newcastle and Lexie’s Cafe are working on a plan to reopen the much-loved Stockton cafe. The process to reopen the café will first require securing insurance for the building leased to Lexie’s Cafe. Prior to this necessary step, Lexie’s Café has committed to the development of a Management Plan.
The City of Newcastle and Lexie’s have also discussed establishing a temporary café in Stockton, beside the Stockton Ferry Terminal, while the necessary work is done to get Lexie’s reopened at its traditional Mitchell Street home.
The Lexie’s Café building was closed following the results of an independent risk assessment, which determined it was at imminent risk of a one-in-two-year storm event.
Following the recent Natural Disaster weather event, a Coastal Risk Assessment Review determined that only a bare 70 cubic metres of sand was left as a buffer in front of the building leased to the café.
Lexie’s Cafe, which was already operating on a month-to-month lease, was indefinitely closed a week ago after a review found that, based on the current erosion scarp location, the building was now within the zone of wave impact, and therefore at risk, in a one-in-two year storm event.
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said a meeting today between the leasee and City of Newcastle was positive with both parties agreeing to work together on a solution for re-opening Lexie’s Café.
“While we would have loved for the Lexie’s Café to continue trading at Stockton Beach as it has for many years, once City of Newcastle officers were presented with the Coastal Risk Assessment Review, the responsible action was to act immediately,” Cr Nelmes said.
“City of Newcastle is exploring all available options to secure insurance for the building. While that process is underway, I’ve asked for the construction of a temporary café to the east of the Stockton Ferry Terminal, away from the erosion threat, as an interim measure.
“There are many hoops we need to get through, but we have made it clear to Lexie’s management that we want to work together towards a solution for Lexie’s that will protect local jobs and safeguard the local economy.
“We know that Lexie’s attracts many visitors and tourists to Stockton, just as the nearby Stockton Holiday Park does.”
Lexie’s Café owner Nick Sovechles said today’s meeting had been a positive step forward in re-establishing the much-loved café.
“While reopening Lexie’s remains our preferred option, we understand that the issue of securing insurance for the building must first be resolved. In the meantime, we will work with City of Newcastle on options including a temporary café beside the Stockton Ferry Wharf,” he said.
“What is clear is that the Stockton community cannot take many more financial hits. It needs commercial ventures that attract people to Stockton, and a café near the very popular Children’s Active Play Hub is one way of doing that.
“What is equally clear is that we need the State Government to support City of Newcastle in its development of a Coastal Management Program so that come 30 June, our community has a long-term solution to the erosion of Stockton Beach.”
An independent engineering report stated that the building is at significant risk from a one-in-two-year storm event. To give some context, a typical risk assessment is based on a one-in-100-year storm event.
The City of Newcastle is unable to secure insurance on the Mitchell Street building, which leaves both the City and ratepayers liable should the building fail without warning.
The City has agreed to commence a nation-wide search for an insurer willing to provide coverage for the building.
This combined, with a Management Plan supported by Lexie’s management, would likely allow the café to reopen in its existing location while a permanent solution to the coastal erosion is determined and delivered.
In the meantime, City of Newcastle will construct a temporary café to the east of the Stockton Ferry Terminal. The location is ideal given more than 50,000 passengers a month use the ferry.
Thousands more people use the sporting facilities at Griffith Park each Saturday morning including the Stockton Parkrun. The incredibly popular Stockton Active Play Hub also attracts a ready-made market of café users seven days a week. The location of the nearby carpark and toilets will also help the commercial success of the cafe.
Typically, City of Newcastle would conduct an expression of interest for the operation of the café.
However, in light of the unfortunate decision to close Lexie’s, the City will waive this requirement.
If City of Newcastle is able to re-open Lexie’s in its existing location, the café at the Ferry Terminal will be re-evaluated as part of a review of the Park Plan of Management.