The ACT government has paid $4.2 million for a block of land behind the casino at Glebe Park, where it plans to build a new stormwater pond, replacing the pond in the middle of a roundabout on Parkes Way.
The block includes land sought by Aquis in its redevelopment of Casino Canberra, which the government might now on-sell to the casino.
The land was sold to the government by Glebe Park Pty Ltd whose sole shareholder is Canberran Paul Green and whose business address is Amalgamated Property Group. But Mr Green said neither he nor Glebe Park Pty Ltd were the beneficiaries of the sale, but simply the trustee. He would not disclose the members of the trust.
"If they [trust members] wanted the public to know who they were they would have put a different structure in place," he said.
Mr Green said the land was originally part of the block which had been redeveloped as the Glebe Park residences and sold to the apartment owners.
Land Development Agency deputy chief executive Ben Ponton confirmed the agency had bought the 12,335 square metre block (block 24 section 65) early in September for $4.18 million.
It would allow the relocation of the stormwater control pond from the intersection of Parkes Way and Coranderrk Street, he said. The pond would "improve the urban amenity of the existing Glebe Park and surrounds as well as improving the water quality flows from Mount Ainslie and east city into Lake Burley Griffin".
The shift was necessary as part of the government's city to the lake project, he said.
The government plans to lower Parkes Way, and create better access over the top between the city and the lake.
Asked about the casino's bid for part of the block as part of its $330 million redevelopment plan, Mr Ponton said: "While priority is being given to the pond, the territory may consider part of the land that is not required for this purpose being made available as part of the unsolicited bid [from the casino], although it is important to note that the unsolicited bid is in its early stages of consideration."
He insisted the "primary objective" of the purchase was a new stormwater control pond.
In 2011, the Greens asked about the failure of the owner of the land to build a car park and do $1 million of landscaping. Government Minister Simon Corbell responded then that the obligation was on the owner to build a car park and do the landscaping work and the government had "made it very clear to the leaseholder that we expect that approval to be acted upon, that we expect those works to be undertaken".
Asked in 2011 about the future of the site as open space, Mr Corbell said there was a right in the lease for a small commercial development "such as for a restaurant or other recreational or social uses".
"The government will not consider any change to the territory plan that permits residential development or indeed any other development beyond that which has already been granted under the lease," he said then.
Mr Ponton said this week that since the Crown lease had been issued in May 2007, the land had been landscaped and a 26-space car park built, as required.