Property plan dropped
A bold plan by the City of Greater Geraldton to acquire a large area of land as a preventative measure has been dropped for lack of funds.
Just before the COVID-19 crisis hit in March, Geraldton’s councillors were keen to prevent years of costly litigation by voting to try and buy several troublesome pieces of real estate.
The motions were all drawn up and ready for the vote, but put on hold at the March Council meeting when the pandemic triggered an emergency budget review.
Meeting behind closed doors on Tuesday, the City of Greater Geraldton council voted not to proceed with plans to buy the old Fire Station site, Southgate Dunes, and the “west end superblock”.
Each site has a complicated history.
The WA Government-owned Fire Station site is thought to be contaminated with toxic fire fighting foam, and environmental laws require possibly-costly soil remediation before any change of purpose.
Council had hoped to acquire the block, demolish the building and seal the block with bitumen so it could be used as a car park and also prevent surface water soaking into the possibly-contaminated soil.
The site is already used as an unofficial car park, and WA Emergency Services minister Fran Logan has said it may be possible to cover it with asphalt without transferring ownership.
There would then be no objection to people using the Durlacher Street block as an unofficial parking space.
The “superblock” comprises several properties fronting Lester Avenue, Fitzgerald Street and Marine Terrace.
Some are of considerable heritage value and require urgent conservation works.
These include the former Blue Heelers Tavern or Victoria Hotel, old Radio Theatre and Furniture Spot sites, but not the Geraldton Beach Hotel.
Mayor Shane Van Styn said they were owned by a company which had gone into liquidation and many of the buildings were in poor condition.
Southgate Dunes consists of a number of freehold blocks bought up by a Perth-based company with the intention of creating new suburbs south of Geraldton.
WA Planning minister Rita Saffioti ruled against this in 2018 for environmental reasons.
Mayor Shane Van Styn said Council resolved to not proceed with further negotiations.
Council is proceeding with plans to try and acquire the derelict Batavia Inn on Fitzgerald Street.
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