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Premier announces grant for the Block

Premier Kristina Keneally last week announced a $2 million grant to the Aboriginal Housing Company (AHC) to help it redevelop and revitalise the Block in Redfern reports Michael Davis in City News of Thursday, 17 March 2011.
The Premier’s announcement during a visit to the Block on March 10 marks the end of the long-running struggle for development funding for the AHC and will enable it to proceed with the next stage of the Pemulwuy Project.

“For many years, the Block has played an important role in the local community as well as the wider Indigenous community,” said Ms Keneally.

“Its renewal and redevelopment will ensure that it continues to play just as important a role in the future.”

Cabinet approved the funding package shortly before the NSW Government went into caretaker mode on March 4 and will allow the AHC to complete the Development Application process and demolish all remaining properties on the Block.

The DA and demolition process is a critical part of – and has been for some time a major impediment to – the $60 million Pemulwuy Project to create a new residential, commercial and cultural precinct for the local Redfern community.

Spokesperson for community group REDWatch, Geoff Turnbull, said the grant has been a huge boost to AHC and has provided it with a source of funding which otherwise may not have been forthcoming.

“As I understand it the AHC had sought a loan from financial institutions but had run into trouble as banks would not lend to them,” he said.

“This was not because the project did not stack up but because of the political problems the banks had previously encountered in liquidating collateral put up by Aboriginal Organisations. As a result the AHC approached the Government.”

The Pemulwuy Project plans to revitalise The Block by creating 62 new homes and providing more than 15,000 square metres of commercial, community and cultural space. It is anticipated that it will create 300 jobs, with 200 coming in construction alone.

Source: www.altmedia.net.au/premier-announces-grant-for-the-block/33032