Govt buys Albany hotel site for $7m

Stuart McKinnon

The State Government has stepped in to buy the vacant lot on which the former Esplanade Hotel stood at Middleton Beach in Albany.

The Government will use Royalties for Regions funds to buy the prime beachfront site from its Singaporean owners for $7 million.

The desolate, fenced-off site has been a blight on the Middleton Beach landscape since the former Esplanade Hotel was demolished in January 2007.

Plans to build a new hotel on the site were shelved indefinitely after the Global Financial Crisis in 2008.

Albany residents have long complained about the vast vacant site, considering it an eyesore.

Premier Colin Barnett said the Government would now work with the City of Albany and the community to ensure the site would again become a vibrant and useful part of the Middleton Beach precinct.

“The former Esplanade Hotel occupied a special place in the hearts of the people of Albany, and it has caused great dismay that this prime waterfront site has been vacant for so long,” he said.

“The empty lot has been a blight on what is one of the most beautiful beachside locations in the State.

Mr Barnett envisaged a mix of retail, commercial and residential development on the site.

The purchase was made possible with $3.3 million from the State Government’s Royalties for Regions program.

The former Esplanade Hotel in 2006. Picture: Astrid Volzke/The West Australian.

Regional Development and Lands Minister Terry Redman said an additional $1.5 million of Royalties for Regions funding had also been set aside to improve the potential of the site.

“To ensure we attract the right levels of interest from the private sector, we have provided LandCorp with up to $1.5 million to further improve the site through road realignment and subsequent landscaping,” he said.

Mr Redman said LandCorp had acted on behalf of the State Government to negotiate and complete the purchase of the site.

“LandCorp has done a fantastic job in negotiating this agreement with the owners, which will see the Esplanade Hotel site restored to its rightful place at the heart of the social life of Albany,” he said.

The original Esplanade Hotel was built by the late entrepreneur Paul Terry in 1991.