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Dome looks destined for demolition

DISCUSSIONS about the future of the land surrounding Burswood Dome are on the cards as Burswood Ltd considers whether to demolish its entertainment and convention centre.

With Burswood expected to soon submit its construction plans for the Swan Portlands site on the river foreshore, discussions will follow between the company, the Burswood Park Board, in which the nine hectares of land is currently vested, and the Town of Victoria Park, the underlying manager of the land.

The groups will need to jointly agree on how the land will be used if the Dome is demolished, at which time the Town of Victoria Park will resume control.

In an address to a Securities Institute function last week, Burswood managing director John Schaap said the Dome’s future beyond 2004’s Hopman Cup was uncertain.

The Perth Convention Centre, to be built in the CBD, would significantly detract from the Dome’s attractiveness for conventions and other events – Mr Schaap estimated its effective use would drop from the current 100 days per year to just 20.

Given the Dome is not air-conditioned and is difficult for Burswood to manage, Mr Schapp said that, for the sake of shareholder value, the company had no other option but to find another use for the land.

The Town of Victoria Park approached Burswood late last year to suggest that negotiations begin to reach an agreement about the area, but according to John Bonker, the town’s CEO, Burswood was keen to first bed down its joint venture agreement with construction group Mirvac Fini.

That done, Burswood is intending to develop its riverfront land into an entertainment precinct with, according to Mr Schaap, a boardwalk-style atmosphere, al fresco dining and six-star bungalows and serviced apartments, some of which would be sold to private interests and some which Burswood itself would manage.

Pointing to the success of the hotel and casino’s redevelopment, Mr Schapp said it was possible to create atmosphere if the land could be used effectively.

Since the hotel’s entertainment facilities were upgraded and dress standards improved, law and order problems at the casino have fallen dramatically, he said.

“People behave better when they dress well,” Mr Schaap said.

Mr Bonker said he expected the council to process the approval of Burswood’s development plans quite quickly, given the town had commissioned a team of engineering and project management consultants to work with Burswood to prepare submissions that would be in the interest of both parties.

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