A $9 million interest-free loan will see the City of Launceston construct 300 public car park spaces on the CH Smith site, if aldermen agree to the plan at Monday’s council meeting.
If approved, the council would enter into arrangements with site owners and developer Errol Stewart and architect Scott Curran, trading as Northern Outlet Developments Pty Ltd.
The bold plan would see the council take ownership of part of the neglected site, with Mr Stewart and Mr Curran to redevelop their share independently.
A 240-space parking facility for public use, to be owned and managed by the City of Launceston, would be built within 12 months of a Development Approval being granted.
A further 60 car parks would be constructed by June 30, 2018.
In the council’s meeting agenda, general manager Robert Dobrzynski said parking facilities at the CH Smith site would service patrons to Seaport and other adjacent areas and also for the northern aspect of the Launceston CBD.
“The council has been in consultation with a number of parties seeking to reach a solution which enables the strategically important CH Smith site to be developed in a manner that adds value to the Launceston CBD and addresses the blight on the city's landscape that currently characterises the derelict site,” he said.
Mr Dobrzynski said it was “extremely important” to develop the site in a way that was visually appealing and restored the highly regarded heritage values of the buildings.
The $9 million loan to build the car parking would be funded under the state government’s Northern Economic Stimulus Package over a five-year term.
Mr Dobrzynski said there was urgency in starting the development as he had already issued three Emergency Orders on the site to ensure the buildings were made secure and did not pose a risk to community safety.
“The years of neglect on the site have severely compromised the heritage values to the extent that should further deterioration occur, there is a very real prospect that important aspects of the city's history may be irretrievable,” he said.
“In more recent times, the council has been made aware of illegal activity occurring on the site, including the presence of squatters. The presence of people on the site has led to serious concerns regarding both in sanitary conditions and safety from injury.”
Work to address the structural and public safety issues related to the precarious condition of buildings on the site began when Mr Stewart and Mr Curran purchased the complex.
Mr Stewart said the council’s involvement in the redevelopment was “vital”.
“It’s not a joint development but certainly it’s fairly important from our perspective that council work hand-in-hand with us. It’s a difficult site to develop and I think everybody acknowledged that,” he said.
“If [the council] decide to take it we will strata off the car park and it won’t be leased, it will be theirs.”
The developers are meeting council engineers on Monday morning to get everything “bedded down” before a Development Application is lodged.
“The plan is to get the DA lodged by the end of the week, subject to council being happy with what they see [on Monday] … and get it advertised hopefully this year,” he said.
“The conditional part of any development on CH Smith is to retain the heritage so there are cost factors and penalties with that, but we have agreed that we are going to do that.”
Mr Stewart and Mr Curran are tipped to unveil their plans to the public tomorrow.
Treasurer Peter Gutwein said he would have more to say on the CH Smith site following the council’s deliberations on Monday.
“This site has been a blight on the Launceston streetscape for decades now and its redevelopment will send a strong signal that the Launceston economy is back up and running,” he said.
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