The State Government has intervened in the old Esplanade Hotel site issue, with Premier Colin Barnett declaring his intention for the government to buy the property — or even forcibly resume it — if the Singaporean owners do not develop it soon.
Speaking during a visit to Albany last week, Mr Barnett said he had written to the owners of the site and gave them two months to respond.
“I made it very clear that site being vacant is no longer acceptable to the State Government and is essentially a blight on Albany,” he said.
“I’ve said either you develop it yourself, arrange to sell it or get someone else to develop it.
“If it is not done then the State Government will intervene, what that means is the State Government may negotiate to purchase it, and we’d be prepared to do that, or maybe even resume it.”
Mr Barnett said resuming the land would not be his preference, but made it clear “enough was enough”.
“It annoys me and I know it annoys locals, it’s a prime location on Middleton Beach and it’s full of weeds — it’s basically a sandpatch with a fence around it,” he said.
“I’ve made it very clear that we will not allow this situation to go on any longer — it’s been five years.”
Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington welcomed the news.
“That would be a great outcome and hopefully we’ll get something developed,” he said.
“I’d like to think that the State Government can put some pressure on and get things done.”
But Albany MP Peter Watson raised concerns about the Government getting involved in private enterprise and accused the Premier of coming up with a “thought bubble”.
Mr Watson said he was not convinced putting pressure on the owners to develop it or sell it would work.
“It’s hard to say whether government pressure would work, they’ve been trying to sell for years but haven’t been able to get any buyers,” he said.
However, the Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry has thrown its support behind the Premier’s move, but warned it could still be years before any real action occurs.
President Rod Hedderwick said while he had concerns about government interference in private land ownership, the time was fast approaching when public interest in developing the land would override any such commercial concerns.
The Esplanade Hotel was demolished in January 2007 and the site has remained an eyesore since.
It was finally put on the market in 2010, a move which was welcomed by community leaders as a step towards new development on the site.Since then the owner, Singaporean based CS Partners, has remained firm on its $13 million selling price, in a difficult economic climate.
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