$4.2million ‘ghost house’ attract bids

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia ,

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The multimillion complex that used to house the S.L.C. headquarter.

The multimillion complex that used to house the S.L.C. headquarter.

The abandoned $4.2million Samoa Land Corporation (S.L.C) headquarters at Tuanaimato, dubbed as a “ghost house” has attracted three bidders interested in developing the building. 

This was confirmed by the Minister of Public Enterprises, Lautafi Selafi Purcell, during an interview with the Samoa Observer.

Lautafi said the three interested companies are all local and the recommendation report from the Board of S.L.C. will be passed on to Cabinet for a final decision. 

“But it doesn’t mean it will be accepted by Cabinet,” the Minister said.

According to Lautafi, the proposal and recommendation from the Board looks at all the aspects and benefits. He declined to say what those aspects are and the recommendation as the report is yet to be submitted before Cabinet. 

But Lautafi explained that while the initial plan was to turn the complex into a hotel it had since changed.

“After the first tender, a survey showed that it would be very hard to turn it into an accommodation provider,” he said.

“So interested bidders were invited to have a look at the shelter and what will suit the purpose of the complex. If they want to lease another acre just behind the house that can be negotiated with the Ministry.”

In an interview in February, Lautafi said the local businesses had expressed interest to use the $4.2million building. 

 “The local businesses have come up with totally different ideas for utilising the building. The board of S.L.C. and the lawyers are now working on the documents and the final say will come from Cabinet...things are moving but there is no need to rush.”

The multi-million-tala building was re-tendered after talks between the government and a local company failed. 

In April last year, Cabinet announced that the negotiations to lease the office complex at Faleata Golf Course so that it could be converted to a commercially owned accommodation complex, had reached a deadlock.

A statement from Cabinet at the time said the original tender did not stipulate non-negotiable conditions and that allowed the parties to include issues that were outside the original tender scope in their negotiations.

The government said it had exhausted all options available to accommodate the business proposals. In the end they could not agree on a compromise decision.

And to that extent, Cabinet approved to re-advertise the tender.

“These things happen, it is normal in business transactions,” Lautafi said at the time.

 “While every effort is made by Government to encourage and assist local business like E.I.L, we have to ensure Government assets are protected."

 “The new tender will include specific details, requirements will be very clear on what is on offer and what can be negotiated and what can’t. The tender document will be made very clear to parties involved.”

 “This will minimize a repeat of events highlighted during the last tender process negotiations.”

Government’s initial target was for the new hotel to provide accommodation for overseas athletes during the Commonwealth Youth Games last year. Ultimately, the long term vision is to develop the property into an accommodation facility for sports teams taking into account the sporting facilities in the vicinity that includes the Aquatic Center nearby, weightlifting, boxing, hockey stadium, other sporting venues, and of course the Golf Course.

There is also the idea that if everything works well, management of the golf course could be included in the hotel development package, in the future. 

But that will be another process. The Corporation vacated the Tuanaimato premises last year and have since moved their offices to the top floor of the Vaitele Market which had been vacant.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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