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Is Woolworths Looking To Buy Mosman Toyota Site?

The controversial application to build a new Woolworths Metro store in Mosman will be heard in the Land and Environment Court in October 2021, as speculation mounts that Woolworths who also own Big W is now looking at a possible second Mosman site.

According to sources Woolworths management have held discussions with Suttons Motors the owners of Mosman Toyota whose dealership fronts Cowles Road and Military Road to build a large-scale Woolworths.

The site which can be accessed from three roads has been described as “ideal” as it would allow Woolworths to build an underground car park with a combination of residential and commercial retail above ground.

The retailer’s current application for a Metro Store facing onto Spit Road Mosman has courted controversy from a small group of vocal objectors with the Woolworths application being rejected despite three independent consultants advising that their proposal complied.

The Mosman Local Planning Panel rejected the “unsuitable” Woolworths’ development application to gut a strip of small shops on Mosman’s busy main road for a Metro supermarket with a cafe and 20 car spaces.

It follows an 18-month long campaign against the proposal from residents, who have made hundreds of submissions while also trying to stack the local Mosman Club whose premises are right next to where the Woolworths Metro is being proposed, fearing that the club could cut a deal with Woolworths.

The matter is set down for hearing before a Commissioner of the Land and Environment Court on 5 and 6 October 2021. The hearing will commence onsite at 9:30am and then return to Court.

HWL Ebsworth Lawyers acting for Mosman Council have written to objectors in an effort to drum up support in what appears to be an exercise in trying to stack the court room with people as well as on live feed channels.

The lawyers’ letter to objectors claims The Court’s revised COVID-19 Pandemic Arrangements Policy allows for resident submissions to resume on site provided social distancing is practiced. However, we are ultimately in the Court’s hands as to how many residents will be able to attend the onsite inspection component of the hearing as provided line in the Court’s COVID-19 policy.

According to Mosman sources Woolworths recently held discussions with the owners of Mosman Toyota.

The move comes as Woolworths gets set to vacate their prized Neutral Bay site facing the carpark in 2024.

This site was acquired by Coles back in 2011 for $40M a price which at the time was described as being 30% over market value.

Coles used a labyrinthine corporate structure to conceal its involvement to acquire the site, blindsiding Woolworths to become landlord of the prized 4282-square-metre supermarket site in Neutral Bay which is said to be the “most profitable” Woolworths in Australia.

It is believed Woolworths was ”livid” when it found out Coles was the new landlord, who grants it automatic access to Woolworths’ sales data as part of the lease terms.

Coles claims the convoluted method used in the deal is commonly employed by property developers and retailers to ”manage the risk of big buyers attracting a bigger than necessary acquisition premium”.

Five days before the purchase, Coles executives staged an extensive review of its own property portfolio to see which properties might be vulnerable to a tit-for-tat response from Woolworths if it ever became aware of the deal.

The analysis revealed Coles had 120 stores with a combined turnover of $3 billion that could be open to attack.

The lease for the busy Neutral Bay supermarket ended in 2014 but Woolworths confirmed it would take up an option to extend for a further 10 years. Under the terms of the lease, Coles has the right to inspect Woolworths’ sales records for the outlet.

 

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