17 March 2023

New builder found for Capital Food Market as first PBS creditors meeting announced

| Ian Bushnell
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The Capital Food Market building site in Belconnen work is expected to resume next week. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

One of the projects exposed to the collapse of PBS Building has already found a new builder and should be back up and running in a week.

The announcement of Canberra firm Construction Control taking over the Capital Food Market project in Belconnen comes as administrators give notice of the first creditors’ meeting next week and revealed that were 11 active PBS Building projects in the ACT.

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On Tuesday (7 March), the Canberra-based company went into voluntary administration owing more than $25 million, with 80 sites across the ACT, NSW and Queensland affected.

The Market site was the first site in the ACT to come to light, in addition to Doma Group’s The Melrose residential tower in Woden, Stocklands’ townhouses project in The Parks development in Red Hill and flexi-living homes in Stage 2 of Strathnairn in the Ginninderry joint venture.

Elanor Investors Group’s co-head of real estate Michael Baliva said the company mobilised to find an alternative builder as soon as it heard that sub-contractors had been asked to leave the site last Friday afternoon.

“We’ve got a very capable team that is managing the project in Canberra and they have strong relationships in the market,” Mr Baliva said.

render of the Capital Food Market development

An artist’s impression of the European-styled Capital Food Market. Photo: Elanor Investors Group.

He said the existing sub-contractors would have the opportunity to complete the work they had started and it was expected work on the site would resume next week.

“There is going to be minimal disruption to the timeframe and we still expect to open well before Christmas,” Mr Baliva said.

He said the project was well progressed, with the 200-space basement car park constructed, the trading floor level in place, the steel frame mostly complete and the roof about half done.

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The cost to the project was yet to be determined, but the company believed it wouldn’t be significant, with most of the subcontractors expected to be back on the job.

The Capital Food Market will replace the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets and emulate trends in Europe where food markets have integrated with casual dining precincts.

Mr Baliva said the new facility would have more convenient parking, 6000 square metres of floor space in the market hall and be home to about 40 retailers, most of whom will come from the old Fresh Food Markets.

“We’re excited to realise our vision of delivering a new fresh food and casual dining experience,” he said. “We look forward to welcoming Canberra’s residents and visitors to the Capital Food Market in the coming months.

“In the meantime, our traders will continue to operate from the temporary Belco Shed.”

Building site and crane

The Melrose site in Woden. Doma Group is looking for a new builder. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Subcontractors on the project, along with those on several other sites in Canberra, will line up as PBS Building creditors when the administrators from RSM Australia hold their first creditors’ meeting on Friday, 17 March, at the Hellenic Club in Phillip and online.

Notice of the meeting on the ASIC site said proofs of debt and proxies would need to be submitted by 4 pm the day before.

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RSM Partner Jonathon Colbran said in a statement it would take four to six weeks before the more than 1000 creditors would be asked to decide the future of the five PBS companies.

Mr Colbran said the administrators had been working around the clock to unpack the complex licencing, insurance, operational, contractual and legislative issues.

He said about there were 24 active projects at the date of their appointment – 11 in the ACT; eight in NSW; and five in Queensland.

The remaining 56 projects had been completed and were currently in a defect liability period.

RSM will deliver a detailed creditor’s report on the outcome of their investigations into PBS’s construction arm, including recommendations, within about three to four weeks.

PBS Building’s 180-strong workforce lost their jobs but was paid out in full.

Buyers in the ACT residential projects have been left in limbo as the developers endeavour to keep them informed and scramble to find replacement builders.

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Just a comment on that image at the top – they have parents pushing a pram on the footpath, and someone walking the other way with their shopping – there is no room for them to pass eachother on that tiny footpath, while there is only one car visible on that massive road. They always make things look more appealing by showing more people and less cars, but rarely actually design to make that a likely outcome. On topic, I’m glad that it will still happen regardless.

Lendlease need to answer questions about defects within their ACT Retirement Villages built by PBS, their reluctance to pursue PBS to rectify the long list of building defects over a long period of time and ignoring residents demands for years to get substandard villas fixed. Always getting studies or inspections done but use ‘there are no trades people available as an excuse’. Perhaps stop building new & fix the many defects residents have to live with.

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