WORK on the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre could start within three months and the first convention or exhibition could be held there by March 2004.The WA Government is currently considering the Multi-plex Consortium’s financial sub-mission and should give a decision next week.With the Wyllie Group appearing as an 80 per cent equity holder in the project, the financial submission appears secure, even though there have been consider-able changes to Multiplex’s original submission to Govern-ment.Planning approvals willing, initial site works on Perth Busport site could start by September.Even if the Perth City Councillors vote against the $45 million for the car parks on both the PCEC and soccer stadium sites, the Wyllie Group will take up the slack.Wyllie Group managing director Ian Hoad said the company was keen to get its hands on the car parking at the PCEC.Mr Hoad said the group considered the PCEC to be a straight forward real estate deal but refused to disclose how much the company had invested in the deal.The company has been part of the Multiplex Consortium since the first tender documents were submitted to the Government in 1999. It sent a letter of undertaking to finance the project then.“We’ve done quite a few successful deals with Multiplex in the past and have three projects with them on the go in Sydney, including the $500 million Citybank building,” Mr Hoad said.“When we committed to be part of the project in 1999 we knew we had to be there at the end.”Mr Hoad believes the fact Multiplex has insisted on keeping 20 per cent ownership of the PCEC justifies the Wyllie Group’s faith in the project.“Every investment we make on the property side of things is based on its economic benefits,” he said.“The PCEC is simply a real estate investment with a major tenant already provided – the company that will be running the centre.“The PCEC is prime real estate. We’ll simply be collecting the rent.”Mr Hoad said the company could have invested out of WA but wanted to keep its money in the State.Besides its holding in the PCEC, the Wyllie Group is planning to put an 8,000 square metre office development on the north eastern corner of the site.But work on that development could be some years away yet. Mr Hoad said the company would only start building when it had a major tenant prepared to take between 3,000 square metres and 4,000 square metres.He believes that could be some years off, with the proposed Westralia II twin towers (boasting 15,500 square metres of office space) and further space to be freed up by the Woodside building coming onto the market.p Wyllie Group a player in new casino rumours, page 9.
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