Tuesday, 7 June 2011
Woolies gets Walkerville out of a hole
WOOLWORTHS has bought the notorious “Walkerville Hole” – the stalled development site on Walkerville Tce that was proposed for a shopping village and residential apartment complex.
The major retail chain has told Walkerville Council it has bought the site and will soon lodge development plans for a shopping centre – without the residential apartments.
The unsightly hole and its temporary fencing have frustrated residents and local retailers for more than two years.
Any new proposal will require development approval from council. Woolworths would not comment this week on its plans.
Work on the site halted in January 2009 after Sarah Constructions completed the excavation but had not been paid by developer Holcon Pty Ltd.
Sarah Constructions registered a mortgage over the site while Woolworths and a major bank placed liens over the property.
Holcon, a company linked to Connor Holmes director Stephen Connor, has not answered Indaily’s calls and requests for information.
Meanwhile, progress on an adjacent development – the eight storey former Department of Transport building – has been delayed indefinitely.
The developer, Melbourne firm Asia Pacific Group, told Walkerville Council in a briefing on May 27 it is “restructuring its business”.
APG said it would not be in a position to commence redevelopment of the building into a boutique hotel and apartment complex until at least the end of the year.
The redevelopment – a $100 million project of 300 apartments and 100-room, five-star boutique hotel complex called Art Series Walkerville – had originally been scheduled to start last December.
Similar developments by APG in Melbourne have been cancelled.
APG offloaded a site in Melbourne’s inner suburb Prahran in April for $5.1 million after paying $10 million for it and another Prahran site in late 2006, according to www.realestatesource.com.au
It had planned to build swank hotels on both sites to slot into its “art series” portfolio of hotel/apartment concepts, which it has been developing over recent years.
It only proceeded with one site development – the Cullen – and has now abandoned the planned $50 million hotel, The Larwill, proposed for the second site.
Earlier this year, APG sold another development site at Daly Street, South Yarra, which was also to have become an “art series” hotel, The Whiteley.
According to reports in Melbourne media, APG’s founders and directors, the Deague family, lost $2 million in investment funds in the collapse of investment broker Sonray Capital Markets.
In August last year after a protracted legal dispute, APG was ordered to pay $121,000 to an air conditioning contractor.
APG chief executive Will Deague did not return calls.