The demolition of a Geraldton “eyesore” is one step closer, with the developers of the derelict Batavia Motor Inn confirming they intend to bulldoze the regional West Australia site.
- The site’s owners have confirmed their intentions to bulldoze aspects of the former motor inn
- Geraldton City Council says contacting the owners to progress their demolition application has been “difficult”
- The owners are concerned about the future of rough sleepers at the site, with a lack of alternate crisis accommodation
It comes as the City of Greater Geraldton has announced it wants the buildings knocked down, directing the chief executive to pursue legal action if necessary.
The Batavia Motor Inn has been vacant for years and has become a target for anti-social behaviour.
A company named 54 Fitzgerald Street Pty Ltd purchased the property in September last year but its owners have remained tight-lipped about their plans for the block.
Company directors Joe Scaffidi, Anthony Scaffidi and Michael O’Sullivan this week confirmed that at least some buildings at the site will be bulldozed.
“We had already submitted for a demolition license so this latest council decision is somewhat surprising,” they said.
“We are still assessing all possible ideas, which could include reuse of some aspects of the remaining built form.
“To date, we have spent considerable funds with two architectural firms reviewing possible schemes for the site.”
But the council’s chief executive Ross McKim said the company’s demolition application was incomplete.
“The required information was not provided and the fee was not paid,” he said.
“Officers have been regularly following up with the owners to try and advance the application so it can be approved.
“It has been difficult to contact the owners and little progress has been achieved.”
Shelter for squatters needed
The company directors said ongoing concerns for rough sleepers at the abandoned hotel had complicated development plans.
“The use of these locations for shelter will mean when demolition does occur, unless accommodation is provided, these people will seek other city buildings for interim cover,” the directors said.
The Department of Communities refused to confirm how many homeless people were squatting at the site, but a department spokesperson said the issue has been raised with the owners.
“The state government has previously written to the owners of 54 Fitzgerald Street, asking them to urgently secure and fence off the land and address the health and safety hazards present at the site,” a spokesperson said.
“The responsibility for preventing trespass and unauthorised occupation of private land rests with the landowners.”
The spokesperson said $9 million has been allocated to refurbishing homes in the suburb of Spalding and increasing public housing stock to help accommodate rough sleepers.
The renewal program is expected to be complete by June 2024, with Geraldton MLA Lara Dalton saying about 12 homes have been refurbished on Bogle Way in recent months.
She has been campaigning for the demolition of the Batavia Motor Inn for some time.
“Just having buildings like that in the middle of our town, they’re an eyesore, and it’d be really fabulous to get that area cleaned up for the residents around there and for the people in the community,” she said.
“I’m not sure why previous owners have let it just fall away into such disrepair.
“It could have been a really great asset to our community for housing or for holidays and tourism.”
The site owners have yet to confirm when demolition will occur.