Adelaide City Council to buy vacant Le Cornu site
The former Le Cornu furniture business site on O’Connell Street in North Adelaide will be bought by the Adelaide City Council.
In a statement, the council said it had “contracted to purchase one of the city’s most strategic commercial properties”.
The site has been vacant since 1989.
“Today’s announcement is the first step in council’s ambition to end the uncertainty over the future of this site that has existed for three decades,” Lord Mayor Martin Haese said.
“Council has entered a conditional contract to acquire the site, subject to the satisfactory completion of due diligence, settlement would be expected to occur in the first quarter of 2018.
“Following settlement our intention would be to ensure that the site was redeveloped in a timely fashion and in a form appropriate to North Adelaide that reflects its prominent central location.”
The Lord Mayor said at this stage the council was “unable to disclose the financial details surrounding the transaction because of the need to retain commercial confidentiality”.
Premier Jay Weatherill said the site was “being taken out of hands of private developers and put into the hands of the local community”.
“This development will reinvigorate North Adelaide and encourage more people to live in and visit the area,” he said.
“Through community consultation we will see the site develop in line with what the community wants after so many years of inactivity.”
He said the Government had been having discussions with the council over the past few months on how best to deal with the site.
“[The site] has become an icon of a stalemate in development of things that can’t happen in South Australia,” Mr Weatherill said.
“This is a fantastic Christmas present for the people not only of North Adelaide but the city of Adelaide.”
Councillor Anne Moran said while it was not the “perfect solution”, the community would be “happy something is happening with the land”.
“It’s a last ditch effort, it’s not something we want to do regularly at all,” she said.
“The perfect solution would have been for the developers to develop within the plan rather than outside the plan, or a compulsory acquisition, but neither of those were forthcoming.”
Adelaide Lord Mayor Martin Haese said the price paid for the former Le Cornu site at North Adelaide would be disclosed in February. (ABC News: Nick Harmsen)
The site is currently owned by the Makris Group.
In a statement, it said the site would be sold “at an undisclosed price … significantly below its commercial value”.
“Because of a recent opportunity, I have made the decision to work collaboratively with the Adelaide Council to utilise the former Le Cornu site for open space and community use and to relieve the extreme parking issues and pressures in North Adelaide,” Makris Group’s Con Makris said.
“While the price paid is below more recent offers to the Makris Group, I am pleased to be in a position to assist the site’s transfer to the community at a price the council can afford.”
The Le Cornu site has come to be regarded as one of the city’s worst eyesores and its future has been a longstanding local issue.
Development plans for the site have repeatedly been announced and abandoned since the furniture business closed nearly 30 years ago.
In 2015, plans were released for the construction of a complex that included a 160-room hotel, 131 apartments and office and retail space.
An artist’s impression of the 160-room luxury hotel proposed in 2015 for the Le Cornu site at North Adelaide. (Makris Group)
Nearby traders and residents have welcomed today’s announcement.
Sam Portaro from Sam’s Shoe Repairs said it would “improve things out of sight”.
“Saying it is an eyesore is really an understatement,” he said.
Local Rex Brennan said he wanted the site to be a “green area”.
“A playground or something, not that they’ll ever do that,” he said.
Another North Adelaide resident, Keith Bound, hoped there would be “something for everybody”.
“A mixed development … maybe some office space as well, more shops, it would just bring more people into the area and restaurants.”