Glen Innes Pathfinders have officially taking possession of the Royal Hotel after the first stage of renovations were completed recently.
Renovations to convert the former Royal Hotel into a major community hub are in full swing with extensive work including the fit out of offices, community and learning centres, new bathrooms and disability compliance being done.
This Pathfinders’ project has employed a large numbers of local tradespeople in the renovation, including project advisors, builders, electricians, carpenters, carpet layers, plumbers, security specialists and painters.
CEO of Pathfinders, Alan Brennan, said the long-term vision was to turn the former hotel into Australia's first regional and rural foyer - a centre that provides support for residents to develop the skills they need to lead fulfilling, independent and productive lives.
"Foyers were developed overseas and there are now more than 10 located in Australia," Mr Brennan said.
"They provide a valuable integrated link of health, employment and education support services for underprivileged and disadvantaged young people. In addition there are long term plans to open up areas of the building to the community in the form of office space and training centres. The size and location of the Royal Hotel make it a fantastic venue for the project."
Pathfinders Human Resources manager Jo Hall said the Foyer model allows young people to participate in an arrangement with an organisation that requires commitment from both parties.
“Accommodation, training and education support, mentoring, development of living skills, assistance to achieve education and employment outcomes are just a few of the positive outcomes that are available through participation in the proposed Pathfinders Foyer model,” she said.
“Our focus is on providing services to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our community and this venue provides multiple areas for different programs to be run.”
Funding for the project was provided by the National Stronger Regions program from the Australian Government’s Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.
Project Manager Mike Zucker said when the project is finished it will be an amazing multi-purpose building that the whole town will be able to use and enjoy.
“The existing state of the building, being a hotel, and converting it into a modern functional product meant it was a great project to work on with a few challenges,” he said.
"The building is heritage listed so the services of a heritage consultant were required to sustain the history of the building aesthetically.
“This is only the first phase of a multiple phase project.”