In Business & Trade by Clyde Mooney

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In a final twist of the Cairns Courthouse caper, Pelathon has surprised the Council and pulled the pin and will cease trading this week.

Following the announcement that Pelathon Management Group would be buying Lantern’s historic Courthouse Hotel in Cairns, Cairns Council pronounced to media that it was going to acquire it.

The surprise claim forced Lantern to issue a “stay tuned” notice to stakeholders, and threatened to disrupt Pelathon’s purchase of the heritage property, formerly the city’s actual courthouse.

But the sale eventually went ahead, with Pelathon paying $6.25m for the Hotel through the EOI campaign with CBRE Hotels.

Undaunted, Council sought to compulsorily acquire the pub from Pelathon, claiming they weren’t given opportunity to buy through regular channels during the five-week EOI campaign.

The matter seemed to have reached a reasonable conclusion last week, when Cairns Mayor Bob Manning declared a “positive outcome for all” with Council paying Pelathon $5.75 million for the pub, but without the 35 EGMs, which it could not legally own anyway.

Although no statement on the topic was forthcoming from the operator, Council understood they would remain on as tenant into 2017, while it honed plans for its dream of a world-class precinct, and the town of 150,000 people to become the arts capital of northern Australia.

Manning admitted to the Cairns Post that it had come as a surprise to them that Pelathon would be leaving, with the last trading day for the hotel as a pub to be this Saturday, Christmas Eve.

However, he says it matters little, meaning simply that the 95-year-old building would be vacant for a few months, except for security personnel, of course.

“We will be moving on this straight away … we’re not a council that mucks around.”

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