Four Council buildings, including the chambers in Castle St, are up for sale to help fund the Cultural and Civic Space.
Four Council buildings, including the chambers in Castle St, are up for sale to help fund the Cultural and Civic Space.

Push ahead with plans or cop an extra $38m Crs warned

COFFS Harbour City Councillors are being urged to push on with the sale of real estate assets to fund the controversial $76.5m Cultural and Civic Space.

It's estimated that if Council does not push ahead with the original plan of selling assets and housing staff in the purpose-built Cultural and Civic Space, additional costs could be as high as $38 million over 20 years.

The information is within a report requested by Councillors into alternative funding options should the sale of two properties (the administration building and Rigby House) not proceed.  This report will be considered at this week's Council meeting.

A key component of the funding model for the $76.5m build is the sale of four council-owned properties.They are Council's Castle Street Administration Building, Rigby House, Coffs Harbour Regional Museum and buildings in Rose Ave.

Following an expression of interest marketing campaign, there were offers made on only three of the buildings and they were all below market value.

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Detractors of the project have long complained about the inclusion of Council offices in the build which will also house a new library, museum, regional gallery and cafe.

 

The Cultural and Civic Space will be home to a new library, art gallery and museum.
The Cultural and Civic Space will be home to a new library, art gallery and museum.

This was considered at a recent Council meeting where a unanimous vote (the first of its kind for almost six months on the divisive issue) resolved to reject all offers and put a temporary pause on the inclusion of the administration building and Rigby House in the sale process.

The move would free up the section of the Gordon Street project that would have housed Council offices to be used for other tenants.

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But it would also mean a refurbishment of the administration building, deemed 'at the end of its useful life' and Rigby House to bring them up to standard.

The matter of leasing out what had been intended for Council offices in the Cultural and Civic Space is also considered in the report before Councillors this week.

The new library will be located within the proposed Cultural and Civic Space on Gordon Street.
The new library will be located within the proposed Cultural and Civic Space on Gordon Street.

At 50 per cent of detailed design stage the repurposing could prove costly, and the report notes that a potential efficiency gain of approximately $300k could be realised each year due to the co-location of all Council office spaces in the one location.

The proposal has divided Councillors.
The proposal has divided Councillors.

The project has divided Councillors for over a year now, and State Member Gurmesh Singh has branded Council "shortsighted and tone-deaf" to push on with it in the current economic climate.

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In April Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock appeared on the Ray Hadley's radio show calling for a halt to the project.

The State Government received almost 900 submissions in relation to Council's DA for the building which is currently with the Department of Planning.