Development a blight or de­light?

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Tom Zaun­mayr

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.

Pic­ture: Tom Zaun­mayr

The Quar­ter in Kar­ratha.

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