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James Packer clears way for $112m Perisher project

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By Nick Tabakoff | May 22, 2009

James Packer clears way for $112m Perisher project
Perisher Blue / Image via timeoutsydney.com.au

An agreement struck between James Packer's private company and the NSW
Government will clear the way for a new $112 million village - incorporating
shops, accommodation and skier facilities - to be built in what is now the
Perisher Blue ski resort's car park.

The Australian understands the NSW Government will today confirm the plans
for the village, after Mr Packer's private company, Consolidated Press
Holdings, agreed to surrender control of the site to the Government. Under
the terms of the deal, it is understood the landmark ski resort, Perisher
Blue - controlled by CPH - will give up its lease on the property's
1780-space car park. The Perisher Blue parking area is the proposed site for
a new village comprising retail outlets, restaurants and accommodation.

In exchange for giving up the land, Mr Packer's private company will be
allowed to consolidate and extend its 10 leases covering 1200hectares of ski
fields into a single consolidated mountain lease to be held by Perisher Blue
for 40 years. The consolidated lease will also have a further 20-year
option.

Previously the site has been under a "hodge podge" of leases expiring at
different dates: some in 2025 and some in 2031.

The land is inside the Kosciuszko National Park, which is under the control
of the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Consolidating the lease gives
CPH the investment certainty to underpin future investments in tourism
infrastructure such as snowmaking and ski lifts.

A concept plan approved in 2006 authorised the construction of up to 800
beds zoned for overnight accommodation. The Government is now expected to
begin an expressions of interest process in which other parties will be
invited to tender for the development.

The deal will mark the culmination of years of on-again, off-again
negotiations over the car-park site and the development proposal. The
village is viewed by the state Government as fundamental to improving the
domestic and international appeal of Perisher and the Australian ski fields
generally.

Authorities are believed to be keen to broaden Perisher's appeal as being a
year-round alpine tourism destination by improving the resort's facilities
and drawing tourists outside the ski season.

The Packer family has controlled Perisher Blue since the 1990s, with the
resort majority owned by CPH.

There had been protracted negotiations between Perisher Blue and the state
Government over the 2006 proposal to develop the village on the car-park
site. These discussions subsequently broke down, after the two parties were
unable to reach commercial terms on the development of the site.

Late last year, the NSW Government undertook public consultation on the
proposed extension and consolidation of the leases by CPH. It is understood
this process resulted in the agreement being signed before the
announcement.

Source: The Australian



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