‘Oscar’s should be knocked down’

November 27, 2017

DESPITE calls for the former Oscar W’s building to be levelled both parties involved have quashed the idea.

The former jewel in the Echuca-Moama culinary crown has fallen from grace and now sits a decaying shell in the heart of the Port of Echuca’s historic precinct in shambles for a fourth peak tourism season.

And it will continue to deteriorate until the retaining wall next to the building is fixed by the council.

Builder Leo Welch said the building is beyond repair and needs to be knocked down.

‘‘Without knowing the background of the site I would think it would be best to just bulldoze the whole thing and start again,’’ he said.

‘‘At the end of the day your building is only as good as the land it sits on and ultimately the retaining wall will need to be fixed to ensure the site doesn’t continue to deteriorate.

‘‘To dismantle, move and put the building back together 15m closer to the road, the labour costs alone would be through the roof.

‘‘It is almost always more cost effective to knock it down and build another building back from the bank.’’

Mr Welch said the longer the building sits there the worse it will become.

‘‘Untenanted buildings usually deteriorate quickly and will continue to until something is done,’’ he said.

‘‘I think the building is beyond repair and is close to demolition.’’

Campaspe Shire chief executive Jason Russell said council submitted an application through the National Disaster Financial Assistance Fund to complete works to the Murray River retaining wall.

This was months ago and yet they continue to wait in hope the money will come through.

‘‘Council was requested to refine and add further detail to its funding submission which required specialist engineering advice to support a revised application,’’ Mr Russell said.

‘‘The site itself is very complex, adjacent to the river and adjoining buildings with little site access.

‘‘We have been advised on Monday that the revised funding application has progressed from a state level and now submitted to the federal department for assessment.

‘‘In the meantime we have also been working with our insurance company to review what we can claim through insurance if this funding application is unsuccessful.’’

Council has been advised a small amount of funds would result through any insurance claim.

‘‘Council is aware of the high community interest in this precinct and whilst the delays in obtaining funding for the retaining wall works are not ideal, it is in the best interest of our ratepayers to actively pursue this funding which is our primary focus at this time,’’ Mr Russell said.

‘‘Discussions with the preferred tender for the adjacent building redevelopment are on hold pending the outcome of the funding application.

‘‘This has been confirmed to him in writing.

‘‘If the funding application is unsuccessful, council will then consider options associated with progressing the works required on the retaining wall and building.

‘‘We would again like to assure the community that completing the works to the retaining wall remain the highest priority for council.’’

Preferred tender Paul Jarman said knocking the restaurant down was not an option.

‘‘We have come this far and we have all our planning permits, heritage permits and Crown Land approval done for Jarman’s Wharfside Echuca to go ahead,’’ he said.

‘‘To even float the idea of starting again and backing away from this could be catastrophic.

‘‘It is not an option and the developer is ready to go forward.’’

Mr Jarman said there was too much to be lost.

‘‘There is too much in the building to be knocked down,’’ he said.

‘‘And to do anything else than what we are would take years and hundreds of thousands of dollars more loss.’’

The council has already missed out on more than $400,000 in rent from Mr Jarman.

‘‘The council need to get on to it and fix the retaining wall so our plans can go ahead,’’ he said.

‘‘The losses will continue to grow the longer we wait.

‘‘We are ready to go.’’

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