The tenants of Central Pier in Melbourne are banding together to sue Development Victoria for as much as $100 million after they were forced to evacuate suddenly over safety issues regarding the aging structure.
A statement of claim alleges that Development Victoria had engaged in “misleading and deceptive conduct” after it failed to adequately repair and maintain the 100-year-old structure so the tenants could remain there until the end of their lease in 2026.
The eight tenants say that Development Victoria knew back in 2015 the pier was deteriorating at a faster rate, despite the repair works that were being carried out. They further claim the repairs were inadequate and Development Victoria “did not act reasonably” when it closed the pier down on August 28 and was in breach of its obligations under the tenants’ lease agreements.
“Development Victoria knew Central Pier was deteriorating at an increasing rate despite its repair works but it elected not to allocate proper funding to deal with the deterioration,” a spokesman told The Herald Sun, adding that Development Victoria needed to be held “accountable for its actions”.
“There are now serious questions as to whether Development Victoria’s repair work over the past two years have actually made things worse.”
The eight tenants had also invested about $50 million into revamping the site over more than a decade.
The spokesman said the closure of the pier coming into the busiest event season of the year was an “embarrassment for Melbourne”.
“We want to work proactively with Development Victoria to fix this mess as quickly as possible but the longer we wait for clarity and certainty, the harder it becomes for the staff and businesses of Central Pier,” he said.