There is a gaping hole in the Ballarat West Employment Zone after a cornerstone business has announced it is pulling out of the development.
Mildura-based brewery Broo has entered into a contract to sell its Ballarat property, according to an Australian Securities Exchange announcement.
The 15-hectare BWEZ site has sat dormant since it was originally purchased by Broo in 2017 with the intention of building a $100 million brewery on the land.
Touted as the 'world's greenest brewery', it was planned to produce up to 480 million bottles of beer per year and create 100 jobs.
Preliminary design work also included a 10,000-seat music venue, a zipline and museum.
Broo has entered into a contract of sale with Ballarat-based Bentley Property Group to sell the property for $7.5 million after first buying it for $2.16 million from Major Projects Victoria in 2017.
FOLLOW THE COURIER'S BROO COVERAGE:
- From 2017: Broo coming to Ballarat with world's greenest brewery
- From 2017: Broo proposes to build 10,000-capacity live music venue in Ballarat West
- From 2017: Future BWEZ brewer lands huge distribution deal in China
- From 2018: Broo abandons Delacombe bar but looks to expand BWEZ presence
- From 2019: Ballarat Council says no planning application received for development at BWEZ
- From 2019: Broo may sell industrial plot in Ballarat's west after losses
- From 2019: Broo's Ballarat brewery project on ice as company reaches for funds
- From 2019: Broo Brewery's land at Ballarat West Employment Zone subject to potential buy-back clause
- From 2019: Ballarat brewery must be built within five years, state government reiterates
- From January: Broo in Ballarat: Uncertain plans as Chinese deal falls apart
The sale of the property is dependent on receiving approval from Development Victoria and an appropriate agreement being entered between Development Victoria and Bentley Property Group under section 49 of the Development Victoria Act 2003 within 60 days.
The agreement would provide conditions concerning the use or development of the land and could include development timeframes or minimum number of full-time employees.
The announcement of the sale comes after the company signed a contract brewing agreement with Carlton and United Breweries in August 2020 to increase its brewing capacity.
In the ASX announcement, the company said it would focus on 'the outsourced production of its beer products through CUB and allocating funds towards marketing and distribution of its products, rather than seeking to allocate and raise the substantial levels of capital required for development of its own brewery at the Ballarat property'.
Earlier this year, Broo announced that a Chinese distribution deal, reportedly worth about $120 million over seven years, with Beijing Jihua had collapsed.
As reported by The Courier, Broo had until 2022 to complete construction of the brewery under state government-mandated conditions on the sale of the land.
The $30 million Ballarat West Employment Zone project is a joint initiative between the state government and City of Ballarat.
Development Victoria group head of property development Penny Forrest said any sale of land is conditional on the agency's approval.
"Development Victoria is awaiting further information from Broo Brewery regarding the announcement about their land in the BWEZ development and we are liaising directly with Broo on this," she said.
Member for Ripon Louise Staley said it was disappointing to see Broo walk away from the project.
"In 2017, the [state] government was quick to claim credit for Broo coming to BWEZ and the jobs that were promised and I note that they have fallen silent now," she said.
"While Broo walking away from the proposed brewery and entertainment venue is disappointing, BWEZ remains an important jobs hub in Ballarat's west."
There has been no movement at the BWEZ site since it was purchased in 2017. Meanwhile, construction is under way or completed for a range of companies, including Luv-A-Duck.
Broo did not respond to The Courier's requests for comment.
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