Geraldton council to consider developing old Blue Heelers destroyed by fire

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Elise Van AkenGeraldton Guardian
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Clearing the rubble of Geraldton's newly-demolished Victoria Hotel and Blue Heelers Tavern on Sunday, February 28, 2021.
Camera IconClearing the rubble of Geraldton's newly-demolished Victoria Hotel and Blue Heelers Tavern on Sunday, February 28, 2021. Credit: Geoff Vivian/The Geraldton Guardian

The City of Greater Geraldton will investigate the viability of it purchasing the site of the old Victoria Hotel, after it was destroyed by fire last month.

At last night’s March ordinary council meeting, CGG Mayor Shane Van Styn moved to have the City’s executive team explore possibilities for the purchase and development of the property, formerly home to the Blue Heelers Tavern.

He said in the short term there could be an opportunity to establish a car parking and parklands in the area, ad later to develop the site and centrally locate CGG services.

The old Victoria Hotel ablaze in the early hours of February 19.
Camera IconThe old Victoria Hotel ablaze in the early hours of February 19. Credit: Joshua Clinton

“The motion before you seeks the intention to at least have a dialogue to try and ascertain what the value would be without spending lots of money,” he said.

“There is a number of people who have been looking at it but none of the folk...are looking to acquire the whole site and that is problematic for the liquidator as it stands.

“...it’s a way to facilitate what is a very large piece of land that has escaped council’s development for many many years.”

He said if the council took a “patient long term position” on developing the block, it could encourage other development of the inner city and the site would likely be sold for about 10 per cent of what it had originally been purchased for .

“...and that’s when governments should act,” he said.

A drone image of the fire ravaged old Victoria Hotel.
Camera IconA drone image of the fire ravaged old Victoria Hotel. Credit: Travis Petford

Cr Sally Elphick said said it was good the executive would support an investigation into the opportunity to purchase the property.

“...and with the information we can make an informed decision,” she said.

“To have the opportunity to create a green space like this in the city is amazing, the connectivity options to open up into another area. The Laneways and what we’ve done have proved to be very successful, for example Rocks Laneway.

“It’s an amazing opportunity and I agree let’s have a conversation and let’s get that conversation started. I just think it’s visionary and I hope everyone supports it.”

The motion was carried nine votes to three, despite no councillors speaking against the motion.

Cr Natasha Colliver declared an impartiality interest to the item as the chairperson of Pollinators Inc. who hold a lease over neighbouring businesses to the site Yamatji Arts and Headspace, and did not participate in the discussion or vote.

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