City provides plan for reopening of Lexie’s café.

The City of Newcastle and Lexie’s Cafe are working on a plan to reopen the Stockton seaside café.

The first obstacle is finding insurance for the council building leased to Lexie’s Cafe.

Meanwhile, a temporary café is being considered beside the Stockton Ferry Terminal, while working towards Lexie’s reopening at Mitchell Street.

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.

After the recent weather, a Coastal Risk Assessment Review determined that barely 70 cubic metres of sand was left as a buffer in front of the building leased to the café.

The business, which was operating on a month-to-month lease, was indefinitely closed a week ago after a review found that 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 lessee and City of Newcastle had both parties combine to find a solution for re-opening the 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.

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.”

Background

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 has been 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 again 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 location while a permanent solution to the coastal erosion is found.

In the meantime, City of Newcastle will construct a temporary café to the east of the Stockton Ferry Terminal. The location provides exposure to more than 50,000 passengers a month.

Thousands more people use the sporting facilities at Griffith Park each Saturday morning including the Stockton Parkrun. The location of the nearby carpark and toilets might also help the commercial success of the café ~ although experienced travellers find the car park and surrounding streets fully occupied by cars during weekdays.

Typically, City of Newcastle would conduct an expression of interest for the operation of the café. However, due to Lexie’s unfortunate plight, the City has said it 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.