Council rejects sale of admin building to investigate possible Entertainment Centre

The sale of Council’s administration building to help fund the $81m Cultural and Civic Space project has been rejected to seek its potential as an entertainment centre. Photo: Emma Darbin.

 

COFFS Harbour City Council has done a backflip on its plan to sell its Council administration building and Council Chambers for $7.25m to help fund the $81m Cultural and Civic Space (CCS) project, instead choosing to investigate turning the building into an entertainment centre.

Council deferred a vote on the sale of the Council administration building at 2 Castle Street, Coffs Harbour at its last meeting on 8 July, due to a late offer for the building being received at 11am on the day of the Council meeting.

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The Council property comprises a two level commercial office building with basement security car parking.

The proposed sale formed part of the funding model for the Cultural and Civic Space Project in Gordon Street, Coffs Harbour.

Council staff had recommended that Council proceed with the sale of the building at its recent meeting on Thursday 22 July.

The details of the sale were withheld from the public in a confidential Council document.

However, Coffs Harbour Mayor Denise Knight, who has always supported moving forward on the Cultural and Civic Space project, did a backflip at the recent Council meeting and moved a motion to reject all sale offers and withdraw the building from sale until Council’s Scoping and Feasibility Study for the Coffs Harbour Entertainment Venue is reported to Council.

“This building might be the preferred space, it might not be, but I think if we hold off, reject all offers at this point until we get the report back to make a better decision,” Cr Knight said.

“I just think that waiting, having the report there, get it to Council and then move on.”

Council’s General Manager Steve McGrath said that the Council administration building and Rigby House, another Council property in Duke Street, Coffs Harbour, “sit under Council’s adopted funding model for the CCS project”.

“If Council doesn’t sell 2 Castle Street then we need to resolve how we are going to repay the proceeds that were anticipated from the sale of this building,” Mr McGrath informed councillors.

Cr Paul Amos agreed that Council should not be selling the building, but not only for the view to turn it into an entertainment centre.

“We should not be selling this because we haven’t got a construction certificate to build this proposed building (CCS),” Cr Amos stated.

“We do have to put in a modification of DA, we haven’t got a consent.

“It’s very risky how we’re approaching this.”

Cr Keith Rhoades sarcastically congratulated “councillor commonsense”, in regards to Cr Knight’s motion.

“Can I finally congratulate councillor commonsense for becoming a member of this Council,” Cr Rhoades said.

“It’s good to see.”

Mayor Knight stated that “it was not necessary to have sarcasm”.

Cr Arkan also spoke in favour of rejecting the sale of the Council building and thanked Cr Knight for moving the motion.

“I think this is heading in the right direction,” Cr Arkan said.

“It is nice to see a rethink and a withdrawal because these times warrant that, it’s not the time to be hasty; it’s time to be wise, it’s time to be patient.

“I know that the entertainment venue has been spoken about for many, many years, so maybe this is where it will go.”

The motion was carried unanimously by all councillors to reject all sale offers and withdraw 2 Castle Street, Coffs Harbour from sale until such time as the Scoping and Feasibility Study for the Coffs Harbour Entertainment Venue Stage 1 is reported to Council.

Council will also note the need to review the interim loan funding source for the Cultural and Civic Space project prior to its term expiry.

 

By Emma DARBIN

 

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