(11.30am 28 July 2012, Darlinghurst)
Hello, everyone, welcome to our Open Day. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and I pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who live in our city.
As you can see, the painstaking work to restore this fabulous old building is proceeding. Wet weather has made things difficult but delays are also due to contaminated soil, the discovery of archaeological relics in the back-of-house area and the need to do additional remedial work on the plaster.
The original plaster had a high salt content and had to be removed to allow a poultice, a bit like papier-mache, to be applied to the internal brickface walls.
The poultice is left there for a two-to-three week period to draw the salts out of the wall. We've had a fantastic specialist company in DLH Plastering doing this work. They're a plastering company which has been run by the same family for five generations, so they know what they're doing!
The archaeological remains that were found in April have proven to be the sandstone foundations of the terraces that stood on the site until they were demolished for construction of the rear building.
Under the lower ground slab are 30 pods that are part of the rainwater re-use system. Stormwater run-off from the main roof areas will be collected and stored in these pods to use for toilet flushing and hose taps.
The completed building will be an outstanding cultural centre for this community, under the management of the Darlinghurst Theatre. And as you know, we've decided on the name Eternity Playhouse to honour Arthur Stace, the sometime drifter and alcoholic who underwent a conversion here in the Burton Street Tabernacle and became famous as the man who wrote Eternity into the streets of Sydney.
We're tremendously proud of what this place will become and despite the delays, we are expecting to see work finished by late next April, only a month behind the original completion date.
While we can't give you access to the lower ground or upper floors today because of the on-going works, you will be able to see some of the progress from here.
We'll also take some tours to Kells Lane to look into the excavation works for the back-of-house area, and we have people from the City project team and the contractors on-site to answer any questions you may have.
It's exciting to see this long-planned transformation taking shape, and I thank you all for your interest in coming here this morning. I'm sure it will whet your enthusiasm to see the finished building.