Talk of securing a derelict building, which has become a magnet for rough sleepers as well as violence and antisocial behaviour, is finally a reality after a contractor was ordered to start installing fencing around the Batavia Motor Inne this week.
The owners of the Fitzgerald Street site have taken the step to secure the site along Gregory Street, at the back of the complex, with work starting on Monday.
The owners late last year said temporary fencing would be installed to prepare the site for demolition, which they expected to take place in “early 2023”.
The Batavia Motor Inne is regarded as an eyesore site prone to antisocial behaviour as people access the unsecured property for shelter. It has been the site of serious crime, including the rape of a 14-year-old girl by an Eastern States predator and the alleged sexual assault of another woman.
Mid West-Gascoyne Police Supt Steve Post inspected the site on Monday morning and said contractors expected to have finished installing the fence along Gregory Street by the end of the day.
“This is a milestone day and a very welcome first step in what will be the ultimate removal of this run-down building,” he said.
“I am sure the local community and police alike look forward to the rejuvenation of this site in the future.”
The owners of the site, directors of 54 Fitzgerald Street Pty Ltd Joe Scaffidi, Michael O’Sullivan and Anthony Scaffidi, declined to comment on the fencing move or to provide an update on any demolition plans.
City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn, who also lives next door to the derelict site, said it was great to see some progress made to secure the derelict building.
“It’s great to see steps being taken to secure the site by the owners, and I look forward to seeing more improvements to the site going forward,” he said.
The City declined to comment on the matter further. The City has previously launched legal attempts against previous and current owners in a bid to force demolition.
The current owners bought the property for $572,000 in September 2021.
In December, Housing and Homelessness Minister John Carey said he had contacted the owners, requesting that urgent action be taken to secure and demolish the site.
“The local government is aware we are currently negotiating with demolition contractors, having the original contractor (named on the demolition application) advising in August they would no longer be in a position to carry out the works,” the company said in a statement last year.
“The fees for the application for demolition have been paid in full. It is our intention to demolish the site and believe our actions to date demonstrate this.
“Once a contractor has been appointed and mobilised, temporary fencing will be installed. At this time we will require the City of Greater Geraldton to assist in bringing the local agencies together in clearing the buildings.”