First light: Blackwattle Bay just west of the central business district. Photo: Nick Moir
A former bureaucrat with a previous link to the Obeid family is part of an ambitious new bid to redevelop the Sydney Fish Market.
The unsolicited proposal, headed by Ultimo property manager and developer Robert Deans, has also reportedly forged ties with Obeid associate Joe Elias, who raised eyebrows when former ports minister Joe Tripodi granted him a lucrative $20 million tender to redevelop the adjoining land at Blackwattle Bay.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption recently found Mr Tripodi acted corruptly over retail leases at Circular Quay in which the Obeid family had a secret interest.
The Blackwattle Bay area will be part of the redeveloped precinct. Photo: Ben Rushton
Kym Lennox, a former Roads and Traffic Authority bureaucrat who became the project manager for Mr Elias' successful bid, has been enlisted to help finalise the latest plans by Mr Deans' consortium, the Fishbank Development Corporation.
Fairfax Media has revealed that Eddie Obeid jnr introduced Mr Lennox to Mr Elias, the owner of a floating strip club who won the government tender for an 18-berth marina despite having no development experience.
Confirmation the consortium was working on a new proposal for Blackwattle Bay coincides with this week's announcement that the state government was throwing open 80 hectares of state-owned harbourside land to development in what will be the biggest urban renewal project since the Olympics in 2000.
An artist's impression of how the revamped Fish Markets might look.
''We welcome the announcement yesterday by the Premier in relation to the bay precincts and look forward to continue working with government, the community and the key fish market stakeholders in realising a world-class solution for Blackwattle Bay,'' a consortium spokesman said.
''We can assure you, however, that we have no relationship – directly or indirectly – with the Obeid family.''
A coming book on the corrupt Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid, He Who Must Be Obeid, reveals that for years the Obeid family had its sights on development opportunities for the Sydney Fish Market.
A spokeswoman for the fish market said it had appointed independent managers Savills Australia to conduct an independent assessment before it decided whether to support Mr Deans' proposal.
But Robert Gavagna, a member of the Blackwattle Cove Coalition briefed on the consortium's plans, said Mr Elias was already on board.
''So effectively, Robert Deans and his team have control, if you want to put it that way, of [the marina site],'' he said.
Mr Gavagna, who was supportive of the plans, said Mr Lennox was now part of the team working on Mr Deans’ latest proposal.
Meanwhile, Mr Elias has failed to meet this month's Department of Planning and Environment deadline to submit the detailed plans for the new marina, function centre, cafe and office block.
It is the second development milestone missed by Mr Elias, who is locked in formal dispute resolution talks with the site's owner, Roads and Maritime Services.
A new plan integrating the marina site would not be Mr Deans' first attempt to revive the area.
In 2010, he put forward a proposal to redevelop the fish market and nearby concrete plants into a new multistorey foreshore development and a 22-metre public concourse, with a road extension through Wentworth Park.
Mr Deans said at the time that while he did not have ''any agreement with anyone'', he had been working with the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and the chief executive of the Land and Property Management Authority, Warwick Watkins.
Mr Watkins was found to have acted corruptly in 2011 in relation to the $12 million purchase of the Pittwater retreat, Currawong.
Subsequent charges of using a false document were dismissed although he pleaded guilty to charges of hindering the ICAC's investigation
It is understood that the state government has knocked back a proposal from Mr Deans' consortium, which said it was still finalising its latest plan.
A spokesman for Premier Mike Baird said: ''The NSW government only publishes details of the unsolicited proposals it receives once a proposal progresses to stage two of the assessment process.''
Mr Lennox and Mr Elias did not respond to requests for comment.