24/07/2007 - 22:00

Esplanade site idle until November

24/07/2007 - 22:00

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The bulldozers may have left Albany’s historic Esplanade Hotel site in February, but work still has not begun on its $70 million futuristic apartment and hotel complex replacement.

The bulldozers may have left Albany’s historic Esplanade Hotel site in February, but work still has not begun on its $70 million futuristic apartment and hotel complex replacement.

Construction of the long-awaited project on Middleton Beach was expected to start earlier this year, however site owner and developer WCP Plaza has encountered several delays and is not expected to begin work until November.

Designed by Tasmania-based architect, Robert Morris Nunn, the controversial Asian and Greek-inspired Project Plaza plan features an 81-room hotel and 100-seat conference facility alongside 30 residential apartments, shops and a village square.

It will be the fifth hotel built on the site, which began as a boarding house in the 1890s before the original Esplanade Hotel was built in 1898.

Project planning consultant and TPG managing director David Caddy said stakeholders were now back in “full design mode” and would apply to the City of Albany for a building licence by the end of October.

“This project is going to bring a whole new level of accommodation to Albany. The hotel will target international visitors seeking accommodation for a minimum of three nights,” he said.

Along with a five-star restaurant, WCP Plaza is also planning to build a new ‘legends bar’, to replace the popular watering hole that was demolished, and a market-style shopping precinct.

Mr Caddy said the developer was working with an international hotel operator.

Completion of the new hotel is expected by mid-2009.

“We’re looking at a building that within five years will be on the heritage register…it’s going to be a real experience,” he said.

Directed by Hong-Kong born businessman Charles Tak Luen Lai, WCP Plaza acquired the 48-room Esplanade Hotel and Extravaganza Gallery in August 2006. The hotel was restored in 1991 by the late financier Paul Terry, who built the adjacent gallery to house his famous collection of vintage cars and art works.

The demolition of the Esplanade Hotel this year provoked a mixed reaction from Albany locals, many of whom regarded the hotel as part of the city’s heritage.

Attracting even more local controversy this year has been the state government’s Albany Waterfront Project, incorporating a 74-pen marina, hotel and function centre, cafes, restaurants and shops, as well as a landscaped park to be known as ANZAC Peace Park.
The centerpiece of the project is a $37.55 million, 620-seat entertainment centre being designed by architects Cox Howlett Bailey Woodland.

Construction of the marina and entertainment centre is expected to begin later this year with completion anticipated during 2010.

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