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Perth risks losing $1.85b World Trade Centre

Perth risks losing $1.85b World Trade Centre

NEW YORK: Perth is in danger of missing out on a $1.85 billion property development and international trade platform as its billionaire backer sweats on a green light from the McGowan government.

The developer behind the World Trade Centre Perth proposal is investing its capital in other offshore locations as it’s kept waiting on a decision over a two-year-old bid to buy a plot of state-owned land in the city’s central business district.

World Trade Centre Holdings Cyprus, an international development platform controlled by Jordanian businessman Ghazi Abu Nahl, lodged an unsolicited bid to purchase a 1.9-hectare plot of land near Perth train station in February 2016.

Buying the state-owned land and combining it with the old Megamart site at 30 Beaufort Street, which Mr Nahl acquired for $50 million, would allow for the development of a 3-hectare World Trade Centre complex.

Designed in Perth by global architecture firm Woods Bagot, the proposal comprised a 75-storey tower alongside a 35-storey building, containing offices, residential and short-stay apartments, a hotel and convention facilities, all designed to stimulate substantial cross-border trade and investment, supported by a network of 330 centres in 91 countries.

In January last year, the Barnett government announced the proposal had progressed to the second stage of the state government’s unsolicited bids process, which allows a proponent to provide specific details to facilitate the Department for Lands’ decision on whether to approve the transaction.

But progress has halted since a change of government in March last year, with Planning Minister Rita Saffioti telling Australia China Business Review cabinet had decided not to proceed to the second stage of the process.

“The decision was made on the basis that the state government is not in a position to fully consider a development at the site due to planning for our key transport policy, METRONET,” Ms Saffioti said.

Australia China Business Review understands the section of METRONET most affected the proposal is the long-awaited Morley-Ellenbrook train line, but the land may also be used for other rail extensions.

Tenders for concept planning of the Morley-Ellenbrook line closed in December but no firm date for the naming of a preferred proponent was announced.

A spokesperson for Ms Saffioti confirmed the Morley-Ellenbrook line remained on track for a construction start next year.