Significant signing for new hot rodding centre at Castlemaine

It was no ordinary, everyday lease that was signed on site at Castlemaine’s old Etty Street secondary college campus late last week.
With a flourish of pens and several speeches, Workspace Australia Ltd and the Castlemaine Hot Rod Centre signed a lease with Mount Alexander Shire Council paving the way for development of the site as a unique new hot rodding centre to be known as Autoplex Castlemaine – and a new home for Workspace.
Last week’s historic lease-signing means the new tenants each take on a separate 15-year lease at the site as part of an agreement to develop a training and education centre for the local hot rod industry, a small business incubation space for Workspace, and a space for community groups.
“This is a fantastic outcome,” Mount Alexander acting CEO Phil Josipovic said, acknowledging the years of hard work behind Thursday’s lease signing.
“We’re going to re-purpose ageing infrastructure for community use and community benefit.”
The council has leased the space from the Minister for Education under a peppercorn arrangement for 15 years.
Under the arrangement, students and teachers from Castlemaine Secondary College will also continue to use part of the campus.
“Signing the lease today is the last step in the process around getting the lease arrangements finalised,” Bendigo West MP Maree Edwards said.
It follows years of discussions on shared plans for the site, involving the secondary school, Workspace Australia, Castlemaine Hot Rod Centre Ltd, U3A, Castlemaine Theatre Company Inc, council and the state government with strong support from Ms Edwards.
Workspace Australia projects director Jim Norris said the lease would enable Workspace to maintain the services it currently provided, supporting 50 or 100 small businesses at any one time.
“This is an opportunity that Workspace needed desperately,” Mr Norris said noting future expectations that the old hospital site on Halford Street, now used by Workspace, was likely to revert to being used for health service provision into the future.
“This provides us with a home base. It says 15 years on the lease but I would hope it will be in perpetuity,” he said.
Castlemaine Hot Rod Centre Ltd’s chairman Larry O’Toole described the lease signing as a milestone achievement for them.
“I urge everyone to take an interest in Autoplex Castlemaine, as the Castlemaine Hot Rod Centre’s portion of the site will be known,” he said.

Workspace Australia major projects director Jim Norris and Castlemaine Hot Rod Centre Ltd chairman Larry O’Toole (seated at front) at last week’s lease signing with (standing) Mount Alexander Shire mayor Cr Christine Henderson, Bendigo West MP Maree Edwards, Mount Alexander Shire acting CEO Phil Josipovic and Castlemaine Secondary College principal Paul Fry.

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