A Canberra company is planning to spend $5-15 million on redeveloping the area surrounding The Dog on the Tuckerbox.
One of the largest architectural companies in Australia, Cox Architects, has been engaged to prepare the master plan for a new Dog on the Tuckerbox precinct, to be built by Canberra company, Paramount Concrete Constructions Pty Ltd.
Cootamundra-Gundagai Council will sell the site subject to a satisfactory master plan.
The dog will stay publicly-owned, but its surroundings will include smart new cafes, shops and accommodation as well as new toilets, landscaped picnic areas and no-one knows what else, yet.
Supporters of The Arts Centre, Cootamundra, who argue that a healthy arts scene can generate economic rewards, should feel gratified about the new developments five miles from Gundagai.
No-one knows if the Dog existed or actually did sit on its master's lunch box back in the 1850s - but the joint efforts of two poets, a songster and a sculptor have created a legend that's only getting stronger with time.
According to Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council general manager Phil McMurray, the master plan and accompanying landscape architecture could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, which is why the council approved a "call option deed" at a special closed meeting last week.
"Council needed to show it was fair dinkum about selling the land before the developers could commit to such a large investment, so it agreed it would go ahead with the sale in the future, subject to the master plan being satisfactory," he said.
Plans were hatched last year, well before the current outpouring of public interest after the vandalism which saw the dog removed from its plinth, then restored, and replaced three weeks later, amid great fanfare.
The council received two submissions by the December closing date, and invited the developers to make presentations at a workshop in February. It chose Paramount Concrete as the successful applicant, but will lease the shop and facilities to Milica and Rose Misevic, the present operators, for at least twelve months.
The area immediately surrounding the dog and the ruins of the old Limestone Inn will always remain in council ownership, but the remainder of the 2.65 hectare site will be sold for an undisclosed sum.
"We can't release the sale price now because it could prejudice negotiations in future with other developers should this proposal fall over," Mr McMurray said.
At last Saturday's unveiling of the restored Dog, deputy prime minister and member for Riverina Michael McCormack congratulated the council on restoration work, announcing that the Commonwealth would pay.
"Why should the Gundagai community have to pay for stupidity?," he asked.