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Council concern over rates-free hotel at Lot Fourteen

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A plan to build a new 250-room hotel at Lot Fourteen has left the Adelaide City Council questioning whether commercial businesses located on the site should be exempt from paying council rates.

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According to Renewal SA’s Lot Fourteen master plan, the State Government has committed to building a “short-stay temporary accommodation” for visiting entrepreneurs, researchers and scientists.

Providing accommodation at the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site would, according to the plan, “enhance the commercial viability of tourism” and provide “additional capacity to university-related visitation”.

“Well established competition amongst hotel operators, including branded international hotel operators, suggests that a small-scale but high-quality boutique offering may be most effective,” the plan states.

“The site is well positioned to support a major tourism destination that operates as a cultural and entertainment anchor for the site and broader precinct.”

At an Adelaide City Council planning meeting last night, Lot Fourteen project director Daniel Redden revealed Renewal SA was considering building a hotel that could accommodate between 200 to 250 rooms.

“We think somewhere in the order of 200 (to) 250 (rooms) is what our current demand studies are suggesting,” he said.

“What we’ve looked at in terms of demand studies across the city… it’s certainly a secondary use, the primary use (of Lot Fourteen) being commercial, employment, research, education.”

Redden was pressed to reveal who the operator of the hotel would likely be, and how it would be managed, but he declined to reveal details.

“We’re very much at a DPA (Development Plan Assessment) level here and really it relates to the use rather than any specific details around tender development or operator at this point,” he said.

“At this point we’re very much focussed on the planning and design component of the Development Plan Amendment.”

The proposed scale of the hotel angered south ward councillor Alexander Hyde, who said building a hotel at the site could disadvantage other hoteliers in the city.

“From the city’s perspective I would say that we’ve got hotels in the city, they’re not at capacity, they pay rates, whereas you guys don’t pay rates,” he said.

“We’re very pleased with Lot 14 coming to the city and we think it’s going to generate a lot of interest, a lot of economic activity, and that’s absolutely magnificent – it’s a game changer for South Australia.

“But, just from the ratepayers’ perspective I would say that’s something to bear in mind.”

The Lot Fourteen master plan, featuring the “short-stay accommodation” building at number 13. Image: Renewal SA

Earlier in the meeting the council’s CEO Mark Goldstone said it had not yet been determined whether commercial businesses operating at Lot Fourteen would be exempt from paying council rates.

He said Renewal SA had informed the council that businesses would not be required to pay council rates, as Lot Fourteen was State Government-owned land.

“It’s fair to say that Renewal SA believe that, as I understand, rates aren’t payable because they pay a rate equivalent to Treasury,” Goldstone said.

“Our advice is that rates are duly payable for any commercial aspect on the site.”

Goldstone said he would prefer the council to have more involvement in the running of Lot Fourteen.

“My view is that it would be good to see rates payable (and) it would be good to see council involved in the site by way of maintaining because it is part of the city,” he said.

“There’s also how integrated Lot Fourteen is with the greater the city or whether it is a site in isolation (and) I think that is a conversation needs to be had politically and not operationally.

“My view is that it would be good to see rates payable.”

Redden said it was a requirement under the Urban Renewal Act for commercial businesses located at Lot Fourteen to pay rates to the State Government.

Councillors also questioned the lack of separated bike paths on the Lot Fourteen master plan.

Renewal SA senior strategic planner Colleen McDonnell said the Government was not considering extending an east-west bike path that connected cyclists to Linear Park and Adelaide Botanic High School.

“We looked at potentially going through Lot Fourteen but you’ve got the levels issue… you’ve got that stepping down the site, so the logic will be that you can definitely take bikes through Lot 14… but it’s not going to be that dedicated cycle path that’s already going around the city,” she said.

Redden said the Frome Road bike path would be retained but its design had not yet been determined.

“I think you would want to retain a separated bike path along that side of Frome Road but again that’s all subject to the design exercise.”

He said under the Lot Fourteen development, it was likely North Terrace would also not have a separated bike path.

“The approach to the North Terrace design is to continue the existing design, which doesn’t have the segregation between the walking (and) cycling.”

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