Sydney Harbour island fort lease listed again

Expressions of interest have been called to lease the restaurant and cafe on Sydney Harbour’s historic Fort Denison.

After abruptly terminating negotiations at Fort Denison last ­August, the NSW government is now seeking operators to lease the restaurant and cafe at the tourism island in the middle of Sydney Harbour.

The state government invited expressions of interest for an initial five-year lease plus five-year option at Fort Denison’s cafe and restaurant, which covers about 470sq m of the 2000sq m island, 1.4km east of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, in July last year.

The NSW government terminated the expressions of interest campaign in August, refusing to reveal why.

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On Tuesday, the National Parks & Wildlife Service said the 2016 dispute with the current operator had been resolved and the lease for the cafe expires on June 30.

The NPWS says the current operator is welcome to submit a response to the new EOI in the same way as any other entity.

Fort Denison lease government

The lease on the hospitality component at Fort Denison is up for grabs.

NPWS director Stuart Schramm says the purpose of the EOI is to find a lessee able to provide an “exceptional visitor experience while protecting the heritage and environmental values of this unique site”.

Schramm says cafe, restaurant and function proposals will be considered on the 470sqm site that consists of one building, a former barracks and several smaller rooms suitable for dining.

“Over recent years a restaurant, cafe and function space has operated on the island and the site has been used for weddings, corporate events and special event functions such as New Year’s Eve and Vivid Sydney,” Schramm says.

The fort was constructed between the 1840s and 1860s and ­retains its highly significant collection of artefacts.

The island is accessible by ferry and water taxi, but private boats are not permitted to land as there are no private mooring facilities.

More than 7100 people visited Fort Denison in 2014-15 as part of government tours, excluding visitors for special events, functions and dining. Under the present leasing arrangement, the government earns a percentage from each restaurant patron. All out­goings must be met by the party running the restaurant, government documents say. The EOI closes on June 7 with the department providing site inspections in April and May.

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