In Innovation by Clyde Mooney

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South Australian hotelier John Meek is pushing to create the Downtown mega-venue, aiming to offer multiple bars, function spaces, a strip club and day-night nightclub.

Meek is a sheep and cattle farmer turned hotel operator, being the lessee at Adelaide pubs the Woolshed, Ambassadors, and Black Bull.

Early 2018 he took a 20-year lease on a famous but run-down and closed CBD amusement arcade known as Downtown. The site first opened in 1913 as Wondergraph Theatre and in the 80s it sported roller skating, dodgem cars, a games arcade and a Hungry Jack’s restaurant.

Meek has reportedly spent around $3 million creating a five-level nightclub and entertainment complex that will include an oyster wine bar on street-level, function rooms, a strip club, two stage areas and a rooftop bar.

Downtown as it stands will have capacity for 2350-pax, and is scheduled to open 27 April.

However, a recent conversation with the freeholder landlord about securing a hotel licence for the site prompted that one was available and could be transferred.

The hotelier has now applied to move a ‘special circumstances’ licence from Kangaroo Island’s American River Resort to the Downtown property.

The new application will also incorporate the City Central motel building next door.

The revised licence type is one of the broadest available and would allow the venue to be open during the day, servicing sporting crowds with its 7-metre wall of LED screens.

Meek Hotels is now waiting on a decision on the licence. A date has yet to be determined.

Although Meek believes the high-capacity hotel complex will be a good thing for the precinct, local neighbours suggest Hindley Street is “going to be overcrowded”.