Fitzgerald St gym junked

A FITZGERALD STREET developer has lost a bid to include a 24-hour gym in a project Vincent mayor John Carey calls a “horror development”.

Narrowly approved under the Nick Catania-led council in 2007, the four-storey commercial development has been problem-plagued from the start.

First, hairdresser Jason Outten showed the Voice photos of cars belonging to staff and clients splashed with cement and a street choked with dust. Shortly after he’d complained to the council, all the cars in his carpark were scratched.

Ten-litre paint tins fell from the third storey to stain the road and parts of the building weren’t compliant with council approvals.

A structural engineer said stone slabs the developer had promised to finish the building with were too heavy, so tiles were laid instead.

Then public art the owner was supposed to pay for, using one per cent of the project’s cost, went missing.

“For their public art component it looked like they’d purchased something from Mitre 10,” John Carey says.

“It got stolen… and then another one appeared.”

The mayor says locals refer to the site as the “horror development”.

“It is without a doubt an appalling development project. A project of this kind would not be approved by the current council.

“This building is a shocker, it’s a major detriment to the North Perth town centre.

“Unfortunately we as a community and council are now suffering for it.”

Town planner Joe Douglas apologised to the council on behalf of his relative, Innocento Tizzano, for the way the project had proceeded.

“As a town planner with over 20 years of experience, most of which has been in local government, I fully appreciate the concern that the developer’s action and inaction to this point have raised,” he told councillors. He was helping Mr Tizzano with the project in an unpaid capacity.

“I sat down with the developer personally and read him the riot act in terms of compliance and significant legal powers the city has at its disposal.”

He says Mr Tizzano had suffered from being poorly advised in the early stages, was inexperienced with a project of this size, didn’t understand the processes and was pressured from the bank to finish on time.

Former mayor Nick Catania has confirmed to the Voice he’d also stepped in some months ago to help Mr Tizzano “on a friendship basis”, with no financial reward, but was no longer involved. He said he’d known the family for many years and had been happy to help for free.

When asked if he’d declared his friendship in 2007 when voting he said he couldn’t remember. According to a council agenda of the time, Mr Catania supported it.

“There’s very few people who live around that area that I don’t know,” the local community bank branch chairman and former Labor MP said.

“If I had to declare a conflict of interest for every bloody item, I’d have never got anything done.”

The council rejected the gym application unanimously, expressing scepticism of claims it would only be patronised by small numbers and wouldn’t add to parking problems.

by DAVID BELL

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