Government’s secret deal with Opal Tower developer
THE NSWstate government owns more than $6 million worth of apartments in the shonky Opal Tower.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal 11 units in the tower are owned by the Sydney Olympic Park Authority, a statutory government body, which secured them as part of a deal when it sold the site to developer Ecove in 2014.
SOPA, which signed a development agreement with Ecove, has refused to reveal the selling price and is yet to comment on the building problems that have forced residents to evacuate.
The Telegraph can also reveal SOPA has a representative on the strata committee which has hired its own engineer and has told residents it is in the process of hiring an independent lawyer.
SOPA's units are being rented as affordable housing to tenants on low to medium incomes and are being managed by an external agency.
The scheme offers a 25 per cent discount on market rents to essential workers such as police, nurses and teachers and, in the Olympic Park precinct, is open to athletes.
One resident who lives in a two-bedroom unit owned by SOPA in the tower said he was still paying $500 per week in rent, despite the fact he has been living in alternative accommodation for the past 12 days.
"I contacted them about the rent a few days ago but have not heard back," he said. Tenants' Union senior policy officer Leo Patterson Ross said it was disappointing SOPA was still charging its tenants.
"I think SOPA should be leading by example, as a government agency they can afford to give people a break during this tough period," Mr Patterson Ross said.
When Ecove was asked by The Daily Telegraph on Tuesday how much it paid for the site and whether it was given a discount in exchange for the apartments, a spokesman said the information was "confidential".
SOPA did not respond to questions about the site.
"As part of the Sydney Olympic Park Master Plan 2030 (2018 Review) Sydney Olympic Park Authority requires developers to provide 5 per cent of apartments in new residential projects within the Park as affordable housing properties, which are owned by the Authority," a spokesman said.
He said SOPA had directed the state's affordable housing agency to provide rental abatement to tenants of its 11 units.
Western Sydney Minister Stuart Ayres, who is responsible for SOPA, did not respond to questions on Tuesday.
Opposition planning spokeswoman Tania Mihailuk called on the state government to reveal the sale price of the Opal site and said it needed to do more to support the affected residents.