Central Pier tenants settle their case against Development Victoria
The legal case brought against Central Pier’s owner Development Victoria (DV) by its former tenants has been settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
It finally ends a four-year dispute between Central Pier Pty Ltd, led by the pier’s former anchor tenant Atlantic Group, and DV, which closed the pier suddenly in 2019 citing critical safety issues.
The $42 million dispute was finally due to come to a head in the Federal Court on Monday, February 5, but was instead settled for a confidential sum.
A statement on February 5 from Central Pier Pty Ltd confirmed it had “this afternoon reached agreement with Development Victoria in relation to the shutdown of Docklands Central Pier in 2019”.
“This was achieved following productive discussions between both parties outside of the Federal Court hearing scheduled to start this morning,” the statement read.
Atlantic Group and its CEO Mr Hatem Saleh (pictured) told Docklands News in a statement, “It’s been a challenging number of years for all involved and we are now looking forward to getting on with what we do best.”
“We’d like to thank the state government for its support in working to resolve this matter in collaboration with Development Victoria.”
Central Pier Pty Ltd, made up of five of the pier’s former tenants, had originally launched a $100 million Federal Court action in October 2019, accusing DV of “misleading and deceptive” conduct, during which time Mr Saleh slammed his former landlord for trying to “choke” and “financially weaken” businesses.
According to documents obtained through the Federal Court proceedings, The Age reported in 2021 that DV knew 10 months before the pier’s closure on August 28, 2019, that the pier risked “catastrophic failure”.
The out of court settlement reached means DV has avoided a potentially explosive federal court hearing.
The Atlantic Group, The Woolshed Pub, Mill Bakery, Mama Rumaan restaurant and Illumbra nightclub were among some of the businesses which formerly operated on Central Pier, supporting some 1300 employees.
Diners were infamously forced to shovel down their meals on the night of August 28, 2019, and immediately evacuate the pier after DV received information from its engineering contractor KBR that it was no longer safe for occupation.
Since 2017 up to its closure, DV had previously commissioned the engineers to carry out a “rehabilitation program” on the heritage-listed pier, which is more than 100 years old.
Marine contractor Fitzgerald Constructions Australia is currently demolishing the pier while plans for its future are finalised by DV.