Development a blight or delight?
A town hotel blight, but eatery delight is the sentiment towards plans for a 100-room, four-star hotel at the Quarter, as the City of Karratha seeks to pump up to $10 million of ratepayers’ money into the proposal.
Existing hotels in Karratha have reportedly been barely breaking even over the past four years and warn a new hotel subsidised in part by rates they pay could sink their businesses.
On the other side of the coin, cafes and bars in the city centre are hopeful an influx of tourists staying next door could help prop up their businesses.
Best Western Plus The Ranges Karratha owner and developer Angus Murray said the City should stay out of private business where there was no need to interfere.
“It’s hard enough to run a business and earn a decent return in a difficult time without having a cashed-up council decide to throw a $10 million subsidy to a new competitor to give them a huge competitive advantage,” he said.
“If we have ‘steady as she goes’ conditions, then this hotel will be worth considerably less when it’s finished than it will cost. Perhaps their whole investment will be lost.
“No one would take that risk with their own money.
“If there is a true need for a Marriott Hotel in Karratha, then LandCorp will sell the land and private enterprise will build it.”
Mr Murray said the City would be better off encouraging older hotels to renovate or redevelop.
Soul Cafe director David Heathwood said as long as no food vendors were introduced in the hotel, it could be a boon for business. “As long as things are done reasonably and they have a realistic projection of what will come out of it, it will be good,” he said. “
The last couple of years have been a bit of a struggle. We need an injection like this to keep going.
“We have seen a lot of places open in the past year or so and to be able to sustain those, there needs to be more people in this part of town.” Mr Heathwood said Karratha’s dining scene was ready to serve a more discerning clientele.
Pacifica Developments has splashed plenty of cash in regional WA in the past six months, having partnered with the cities of Kalgoorlie-Boulder and Busselton for hotel developments in 2017.
City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said with tourism and conference markets expected to grow, it was important to have quality accommodation.
“If developed, the operator estimates that they will spend $26.3 million marketing the hotel and the city over the life of the agreement, which will generate a great deal of exposure for the city,” he said. Pacifica did not respond to requests for comment.
The Quarter in Karratha.