25/07/2022 - 15:51

ACE looks for South Freo trump card

25/07/2022 - 15:51

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Australian Capital Equity is believed to be seeking a partner or adviser to bring heritage expertise to the South Fremantle Power Station development, including sounding out Hesperia.

ACE looks for South Freo trump card
South Fremantle Power Station. Photo: Matt Mckenzie

Australian Capital Equity is believed to be seeking a partner or adviser to bring heritage expertise to the South Fremantle Power Station development, including sounding out Hesperia.

Media reports have named Kerry Stokes’ Australian Capital Equity as the buyer of the 75-year-old site from the state government’s utility Synergy, although neither party has confirmed the deal.

But it’s understood ACE has been seeking help to sharpen up its plans for what Synergy has labelled one of the most complex development sites ever seen in Western Australia.

Business News understands ACE sought out Hesperia, a venture founded by Ben Lisle and Adrian Fini, to act as a heritage consultant for the development.

A spokesperson for ACE said it had no comment.

It comes after Hesperia has been working to beef up its heritage advisory services.

Responding to a request to confirm the approach, Hesperia director Kyle Jeavons said the company "does not have a role in the potential redevelopment of the South Fremantle Power Station".

Mr Jeavons also said Hesperia did not participate in the expression of interest process to redevelop the site last year as it had a busy delivery schedule already.

Hesperia has well-known expertise in adaptive use of heritage buildings and identifying commercial and public uses that enable economically viable redevelopments for the long-term,” Mr Jeavons said.

“As Hesperia is now regularly approached by a range of local and national property owners for strategic advice regarding heritage projects, the company has recently boosted the capacity of its heritage development advisory services team.”

Hesperia has been building its interests in Fremantle.

Earlier this month, Hesperia said it had acquired the Elders Wool Stores, a site which had been disused for decades.

The company had also been involved in a plan to build a film studio at Victoria Quay.

In July last year, Synergy launched an eight day expression of interest process to sell the heritage-listed South Fremantle site, with plans to announce a winner in September.

In February, Business News revealed the lucky counterparty had been selected, although Synergy had been unable to name the company.

When asked by Business News last week if he was aware of who the preferred bidder was, Energy Minister Bill Johnston’s office pointed to a Hansard transcript from February, and said nothing had changed.

“I am not aware of any of the details of the sale process, other than that which I provided in answer to a question in the upper house the other day,” that statement said. 

Mr Johnston said the process was conducted independently of his office, by Synergy.

"Synergy was asked by me to deal with that entire matter as a commercial transaction without political interference, and that is exactly what is occurring," he said.

"I have become aware, because of a media report, that apparently some heads of agreement are following on from that process.

"Clearly, as I understand from the answer I gave in the other place (the Legislative Council), there is a conditional sale.

"Clearly, the conditions for that sale have not been completed.

"When those conditions are completed, Synergy will make the decision on whether it wants to dispose of the asset.

"That is a commercial decision for Synergy."

Mr Johnston's office did not directly answer a question as to whether the sale had been considered by cabinet, or if it would be.

Sunset clause

An unnamed buyer is also in discussions to redevelop the Sunset Hospital heritage site in Dalkeith.

The Minderoo Foundation had previously been picked as preferred proponent.

“The EOI process for refurbishment of the Sunset Heritage Precinct buildings is ongoing, due to the withdrawal of the preferred proponent from negotiations in late 2021,” a state government spokesperson said.

“There have been delays in the negotiations due to changing market conditions resulting from the COVID pandemic, however negotiations are ongoing with the reserve proponent.”

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