COTTESLOE councillors have rejected a $4.7 million redevelopment of the iconic Indiana restaurant because of a technical issue with its lease – after claiming the building also needed $2 million in repairs.
Last Tuesday, the council rejected its Business Plan and a Head of Agreement agreed last September for the redevelopment, reported on communitynews.com.
“The community wants to know the situation, as we feel we are being kept in the dark,” Cottesloe Residents and Ratepayers Association secretary Yvonne Hart said.
Last September, a Heads of Agreement and a Business Plan for the redevelopment proposed the council, South Melbourne-based restaurant operator Red Rock Leisure and the State Government share the project’s costs, including a breezeway to ventilate contentiously smelly public toilets and a concrete deck running east to Marine Parade for a new kiosk.
Ms Hart said a recent report for the council by consultants Cardno said repairs to the “structurally sound” restaurant needed to be done in stages, including dangerous paving, metalwork, painting, gutters and exhaust fan upgrades.
Cottesloe Mayor Jo Dawkins said the technical issue with the lease was not related to Cardno’s report and the suggested repairs to the restaurant.
“The Business Plan is off until the technicality is resolved,” Mrs Dawkins said.
Mrs Dawkins could not discuss whether the technicality exposed the council to greater costs, and would not comment on any replacement redevelopment replicating the design she promoted last September.
The restaurant has been dogged by controversy since its construction over changing rooms in the mid-1990s, including claims of concrete cancer and a 50-year lease without rent increases, before the council rejected a $1.2m upgrade proposed by the restaurant’s operators in 2008.
Answering a resident’s claim of repeating problems with the building because it was so close to the ocean, Mrs Dawkins said she “could not agree with you more”.
Resident Rosalin Sadler said any hospitality business should “bend over backwards” to honour the long lease, but instead the building was degraded, including the private and public toilets.
Chief executive Mat Humfrey said it was hoped the public would be told of the issue with the lease at, or just after, the April council meeting.
The WA representative of Red Rock Leisure has been contacted for comment.