By ERWIN CHLANDA
Tenders have closed for building a five storey apartment and business complex on the old Melanka site, according to Lahey Constructions, the firm which recently built the new outpatients department of the Alice Springs hospital.
A Lahey spokesman says he understands his firm is one of several tenderers, both local and national, and no decision appears yet to have been made by the client, CJHA Pty Ltd.
But suppliers in the local construction industry say builders have been seeking quotes for the job which in essence is unchanged from the application in 2011 when the block went on the market again because building costs were too high.
The Planning Minister at the time, Gerry McCarthy, announced the project in February, 2010 as a “$60 million mixed residential and tourist development with “five buildings covering 40% of the site, 15% of which is five storeys high” and which will have more than 100 two- and three-bedroom residential and short stay apartments. This proposal will include a commercial floor area that includes a proposed licensed venue.”
The approval was amended by Terry Mills in 2012, deleting the basement car park “in response to the need to protect three sacred trees”. The number of units was reduced by eight and there is now marginally less floor area for shop and restaurant space.
It seems CJHA Pty Ltd, the original owners, are now ready to go ahead.
The redevelopment of the site – for decades a workers’ then backpackers’ hostel – began with a proposal for a Gilligan’s backpacker hostel, similar to the one in Cairns.
While this is no longer current, a link with Gilligan’s continues: the sole director of CJHA is Christian John Hastings Ainsworth, a member of the poker machines dynasty who has trademark protection for several entities called Gilligan’s.
By ERWIN CHLANDA