Hotel Australasia sale taken into closed session

SAGA: Councillors moved into closed session on Wednesday night to discuss a developer’s offer to purchase Hotel Australasia. Picture: Rachel Mounsey
SAGA: Councillors moved into closed session on Wednesday night to discuss a developer’s offer to purchase Hotel Australasia. Picture: Rachel Mounsey

After a lengthy and at times circuitous discussion, council resolved to take the matter of the Hotel Australasia into closed session to discuss a minimum sale price and conditions and give councillors the opportunity to say what they wanted from the sale.

Following the process where the property was put out to market through three Eden real estate agents, an offer has been received, which at this time remains confidential.

Staff had recommended that council give the general manager the authority to negotiate the sale for a minimum value as determined by council and proceed with the sale.

As part of a confidential report to councillors it is understood a developer has made an offer on the property, but it is believed to not cover council’s purchase costs of the hotel which it has owned for several years and which has been the subject of considerable community debate.

However four councillors, Tapscott, Dodds, Griff and Seckold wanted to explore funding options before selling the hotel.

Mayor Kristy McBain attempted to drive a middle path by suggesting that council officers put together a list of grant funding options to be considered at the same time as the offer.

Cr McBain’s motion was lost and as a consequence councillors Fitzpatrick, Bain, Nadin, Allen and McBain carried a motion that will see the hotel sold unless minimum conditions are not able to be met.

Negotiations will be carried out by the mayor and general manager with the prospective purchaser following the confidential discussion by councillors on what they consider to be the minimum acceptable sale price and conditions for the sale.

The argument over a search for potential sources of funding was taking place as Labor’s candidate for the seat of Bega, Leanne Atkinson, was promising grant funding to council of $1.5million for the hotel if Labor was elected.

If they cannot find agreement with the prospective purchaser, the matter must again return to council for resolution.

Cr Sharon Tapscott said not all options and benefits for the people of Eden had been explored.

“The moment in time was earlier. We have sacrificed the goodwill of the community and council’s reputation over this,” Cr Tapscott said, adding that she understood there should not be a cost to the ratepayers.

But Cr Robyn Bain said it was a straight sale of a property.

“We have unanimously agreed what we want to happen and gone out to market. We will see the vision for the hotel through the DA process,” Cr Robyn Bain said.

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