Bega Valley Shire Council has announced that the sale of the Hotel Australasia to Irisha Pty Ltd and Rubycove Pty Ltd will not be proceeding.
There was an impression that the deal was done when it was discussed at the council meeting May 23 and a motion passed to authorise the general manager and mayor to execute the contract for sale and side deed.
Speaking at that meeting council’s director of community environment and planning Anthony Basford said considerable effort had been put into the legal side of the sale to ensure the facade and laneway access was protected.
During councillors’ discussion of the matter there was praise for the outcome with councillor Robyn Bain saying that the timeframe had a beginning and a completion .
The unanimous vote for the sale prompted applause and murmurs of approval.
However councillor Sharon Tapscott, who moved the motion to go ahead also asked for the contract to be released as a public document as soon as possible; it never happened as no contracts were ever exchanged.
“We have received formal advice from our legal representatives that the developers no longer wish to purchase the heritage listed hotel,” council said on Monday, July 30.
“Negotiations had previously resulted in an agreed sale price, along with commitments concerning the restoration and use of the site and the development of the laneway in accordance with the side deed.”
Asked why the sale had fallen through the spokesman said council had not been given any reasons as to why the developers had withdrawn from the sale.
“These events are obviously disappointing; however council remains steadfast in its commitment to see the Eden icon return to its former glory.”
A further report will now be prepared for council to determine the next steps.
The motion relating to the Hotel Australasia and council’s involvement in 2016 was not rescinded and the question remains whether the motion will be re-instated now that the sale to Irisha Rubycove is no longer going ahead.
The Hotel Australasia is listed as a heritage item under the Bega Valley Local Environment Plan 2013 (LEP) and the restoration of the façade was a condition in the contract for sale, council said.
In the meantime there is concern that with eight months to go before the cruise season restarts, the derelict building remains in the centre of Eden.
Peter Whiter from Eden’s Australasia said that the organisation still had some funds probably in the region of $8000, and remained keen to be involved in the future of the hotel.
Councillor Tapscott said that council would have to see what could be done.
“I want to see it kept as an iconic building, with the laneway to contact the car park at the back and the main street and I want to see this turned into a useful building,” she said.
The hotel has been slated for demolition and has been the subject of a concerted community campaign to save it. On September 7, 2015 council entered into a six month option to purchase the Hotel Australasia site.
On February 24, 2016 council resolved on the motion of Crs Tapscott and Britten
1. That council approve the acquisition of Lot 14 DP 250841, Eden as per the terms of the Option to Purchase which was executed on September 7, 2015 between Bega Valley Shire Council and Great Southern Developments Pty Ltd for the purpose of retaining the heritage value to the community of Eden pursuant to Section 186 of the Local Government Act 1993.
2. That council give notice of its intention to classify the land as Operational Land under Section 34 of the Local Government Act 1993 upon acquisition.
3. That the mayor and general manager be authorised to execute the necessary documents.
4. That in exercising the option to purchase council acknowledges that it may have a funding commitment initially of up to $1m to purchase, secure the site and remediate the facade, subject to grant funding and community contribution.
5. That council continue to liaise with Eden’s Australasia Inc to realise the groups commitments toward the heritage restoration of the site.
6. That council receive a further report following completion of the purchase detailing the processes being undertaken towards restoring of the site.
This is the motion which is believed not to have been rescinded.