Hotel still on agenda
Plans for a hotel development at the Quarter are being pushed forward despite sluggish occupancy rates at existing hotels and the public’s growing affection for the temporary green space.
LandCorp is pushing ahead with the proposal and informal talks for a hotel development as part of stage two of the Quarter have been held with five groups since previous proponent Ramtron withdrew its interest in January.
Ramtron had planned a $65m, 144-room Doubletree by Hilton to take up the site but was unable to raise the funds required.
Several Karratha hotel managers kept cards close to their chests when questioned on vacancy rates, but it is believed to be sitting about 50 per cent this year.
LandCorp West Pilbara regional manager Travis McNaught said they were entering discussions with one of the interested proponents.
“We are currently in initial negotiations regarding the terms of an exclusive working period,” he said.
“LandCorp will advise any progressive outcomes should a formal agreement be reached.”
The site has hosted several events since the Quarter opened and is due to host the world premiere of Red Dog: True Blue in December.
A poll on the Pilbara News Facebook and Twitter pages showed a strong preference to keep the grassed area, with more than 80 per cent of readers voting against building a hotel.
Mr McNaught ruled out leaving the site as a public open space.
“It will only remain as a temporary event space until we have a developer secured for the site,” he said.
“Further open space is being provided as part of the Arts and Community Precinct and the future park on the corner of Welcome Road and Sharpe Avenue.”
Karratha International general manager Glen Barnes would not comment on the Quarter hotel proposal, but said the sector was already a battle because of temporary workforce accommodation camps competing with hotels for room nights.
City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said the Quarter had been a “wonderful” addition to the city centre.