Bushfires, COVID and now the threat of eviction - what more can be thrown at these businesses?

Bushfires, COVID and now the threat of eviction - what more can be thrown at these businesses?

There is a serious disconnect between the city and the bush when an invitation to discuss Eden's harbourside buildings with staff from Crown Lands, results in what is tantamount to an eviction notice.

This, in a horrendous year, where businesses have been badly impacted by the bushfires and COVID-19.

Who cannot be left incredulous that after years of asking for meetings to discuss how tenants will migrate from the old Eden harbourside buildings to something new - with no results - what transpires is a breach of lease notice.

Basically it means that if the head leasee - the Marine Discovery Centre - does not make good the breaches, the lease will be terminated in 28 days.

ACM has been told one of the breaches is a structural matter and the other to do with fire safety.

Stan Soroka, who was chair of the board of the Marine Discovery Centre for several years said "despite the original board obtaining a full building report prior to purchase, followed by a full fire safety audit by the Australian National University, anyone who knew the history of this building knew it had seen better days".

"All fire safety issues were immediately addressed at that time, and the building is inspected annually to ensure compliance. From the time of occupation, the centre staff and board sought audiences with a number of government representatives to seek a long-term plan for the centre," Mr Soroka said but it was to no avail.

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ACM understands that although a number of concept plans have been drawn up and requests made to establish how the plans would work in practise, Crown Lands bureaucrats have been reluctant or unable to give any detail.

It has left the Marine Discovery Centre and its sub-tenants in a precarious position with a lease expiring in November 2022, vague discussion of revitalising the area by bureaucrats and politicians but not one jot of certainty for those who businesses are on the front line.

In the meantime some of these businesses have started limited opening but the situation between the bushfires and pandemic has been so dire that the Marine Discovery Centre has given rent relief, thereby taking a hit on its own income.

The Marine Discovery Centre has made it plain it is in no position to pay for structural repairs and has tried to get an urgent meeting with Bega MP Andrew Constance.

ACM has been told a meeting is being arranged between Mr Constance, NSW Property Minister Melinda Pavey, Crown Lands and chair of the board of the Marine Discovery Centre Paul Whittock.

The NSW government has said the harbourside activation project will explore options for the redevelopment of the Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre site.

"Modifications to this mixed-use zoned site have the potential to provide retail activation, commercial use, residential accommodation and recreational marine activities to better support the foreshore and harbour precinct and help unlock the town's tourism potential."

Fine ideals, but right now it looks like the much-loved Marine Discovery Centre and its sub-tenants are being thrown under a bus because some suits don't appear to have worked out we've been through enough already this year.