Artist’s impression of Gravity, the $300 million development proposed by Belmorgan Property Development.Three years after liquidators were appointed to its Belmorgan companies, the Kosseris family is celebrating the approval of a $53 million retail and accommodation complex in Dubbo.
The Belmorgan companies were behind a string of high-profile Illawarra development sites, including the proposed $300 million Gravity project in Wollongong and the Ambience building at Fairy Meadow, that collapsed, owing creditors tens of millions of dollars.
Earlier this month the Western Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP), coincidentally chaired by former Wollongong City Council administrator Gabrielle Kibble, gave the green light to the $53 million Riviera Shopping Centre.
The centre is a project of Penrith Mega Homebase, of which Mr John Kosseris’s wife, Patricia, is director and secretary.
Mr Kosseris spoke at the JRPP meeting in support of the development and said the project would revitalise Dubbo.
‘‘It is something Dubbo has never seen before,’’ he said.
Mr Kosseris told the Illawarra Mercury the Dubbo development was ‘‘a good clean project’’ that would create more than 380 construction jobs and 430 full-time jobs on completion.
The Mercury asked him how he had bounced back so quickly from his troubled time in the Illawarra.
‘‘To start off with, it is my wife’s project, not mine… my wife is quite wealthy and always has been,’’ Mr Kosseris said.
‘‘We were caught up in the GFC, which caused hundreds of thousands of companies to hurt, and we were one of them – even Stockland, Centro got hurt because of the GFC.
‘‘They were able to move on, and we move on thanks to the ability of my wife’s side of things.
‘‘In actual fact, when we went to Wollongong we were a wealthy family.
‘‘We offered to do a lot of good things for Wollongong.’’
Mr Kosseris blamed the financial woes of his Wollongong companies on the lengthy legal battle with GPT Group over the Gravity project.
GPT and Belmorgan battled it out in court for three years. GPT argued that the Gravity proposal should never have been approved by Wollongong City Council in August 2005 because it didn’t conform with draft planning guidelines.
Each side tasted success in court at various times but the saga played into GPT’s hands by stalling the Gravity proposal.
“It is still disappointing that GPT, the owners of the opposition shopping centre, kept taking us to the Land and Environment Court and drained us of cash flow,’’ Mr Kosseris said.
Mr Kosseris said it was ‘‘unfortunate’’ that people were hurt.
‘‘We didn’t go out to deliberately do that… the domino effect came into play,’’ he said.
The family’s partially complete Dunmore mansion is now falling into ruin, but Mr Kosseris said his family still wanted to see the project realised.
‘‘We learned that Wollongong is a very cliquey place, quite hard to do developments in and have them come to fruition.
‘‘It was Wollongong that was the demise of Belmorgan.
‘‘Unfortunately we ended up in Wollongong and lost multi-millions.
‘‘We are now trying to do things for Dubbo… the city here needs it to happen.
‘‘It is my wife’s company and as a family we want to try and move forward, hopefully one day invest again in Wollongong.’’
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