THE Shire of Murray continues to remain positive that an announcement will be made soon regarding redevelopment of the Exchange Hotel in Pinjarra.
In February, the council completed its expression of interest process and selected a preferred candidate from four applicants.
Shire president Maree Reid said the preferred applicant had worked diligently through a challenging planning process and extensive feasibility study.
Cr Reid said the council had worked with the applicant through the process to help and provide advice as necessary.
“It is anticipated the final business case and developer application will be received shortly following final due diligence by the developer,’’ she said.
“Once the developer application has been reviewed by the council, a business plan will be advertised and presented to the community.
“The shire understands the community’s frustration with the delay but is confident that by selecting the “best fit” developer and ensuring due diligence is undertaken, a positive result will be achieved for many generations to come.
“By encouraging private investment, millions of dollars of ratepayer money will not need to be spent on redevelopment works.”
Cr Reid said some people had queried why the shire had not developed the site but it was beyond the financial capacity of local government to develop major commercial sites such as one of this scale.
She said the council was committed to enticing and encouraging private investment.
“It has been about positive outcomes that will encourage private investment, protecting our heritage precinct and beautifying and retaining ownership of our foreshore and town square,’’ she said.
The council bought the former Exchange Hotel property in 2012 after it sat idle for four years with little interest from the private sector and fears it would be bought by business inconsistent with the heritage fabric of the town such as a fast food chain.
The council also faced the issue of non-ownership of the Murray River foreshore adjacent to the hotel as well as much of the town square and swing bridge, being on the four lot title.
Cr Reid said it was the practice more than 100 years ago to subdivide where blocks on the Murray River foreshore had a boundary to the middle of the river.
“Since the purchase of the hotel site the shire has excised the foreshore and town square components of the property and made the respective area reserve land to permanently protect these assets,’’ she said.
“The council also had a significant level of control over the development to protect as much as possible the heritage of the building, particularly a section dating back to 1866.”
Prior to the purchase there was no guaranteed protection for the building’s heritage elements.