To all Councillors
As a ratepayer born in this town, I am writing to implore you to vote for the rescission motion to enable further reflection and consultation on this matter of the most financially significant capital works project ever contemplated by this Council namely the “Cultural and Civic Space” building proposed for Gordon Street.
By Peter Strickland
The consultation process has been “paper thin” and the public meeting held recently at the Jordan Centre” should stand as a clarion “wakeup” call.
The irony that a “town hall” meeting has to be called in an inadequately sized or located building should not be lost on the Council. This coupled
with the fact that there appears to be the outward appearance that Council has an overly cosy relationship with Coffs Ex-Services Club something which seems apparent to the majority of the populace such that Council tacitly approves of the Ex-Services Club seeking grant funding to build an entertainment venue.
If this abrogation of social responsibility comes to fruition I am quite sure such a venue would not be made available for eisteddfods, school socials, rehearsals, school concerts or public meetings gratis or on a cost-recovery only basis but would, in all likelihood, only be available for an unsubsidized
This Council should be seeking Grant funding for Entertainment/Arts not a
commercial enterprise like the Ex-services Club which was “gifted” a whole city block in return for scrubland the Club owned along Hogbin Drive to facilitate Council enticing Southern Cross University to town.
I have intimate knowledge of that land-swap deal as I worked for Coffs Harbour City Council in the Property Department for 13 years from 1980 to 1993 initially housed in the red brick clock tower building adjacent to the Civic Centre before moving to the new Council Chambers.
I can attest that there are many mistruths being perpetuated about the current Council chambers and the current excuse being promulgated is that it is a “rabbit warren” so, therefore, needs to be sold and smaller
admin accommodation being built in the new edifice proposed in Gordon street.
The fact is that subsequent administrations (i.e. new General Manager/Mayor combinations) resolved to partition out what was originally a substantially open-plan building with perimeter offices which took up space.
Instead of undertaking the most cost-effective solution of adding an extra floor to the current council chambers every new Mayor/GM combo either proposed “band-aid” solutions or approved the buying up of nearby commercial buildings.
If you look at the current administration building today it already has the
reinforced concrete floor for the second story in place (the painted grey “collar” at the top of the building) and at the time bricks were purchased for the second storey (some were still in store at the depot). This left only the cost of windows and roof to have achieved a “lock-up” stage the second
floor having an area of the total building footprint at an absolute minimal cost with only fit-out costs to be the significant funding to be obtained.
Further, the City Hill Project (pictured below) has fully worked architectural plans showing a staged construction that was drawn up by the State Government Architect over a period of around five years, It started out with various conceptual drawing and then refined down to a preferred building of suitable prominence to be constructed of mass concrete.
This process was exhaustive to the extent of going from concept to a fully worked plan including the associated engineering plans. It was “build-ready’.
It proposed a civic building of majestic grandeur and of low maintenance cost that would become of State significance and possible of earning heritages listing, in time, like the Sydney Opera House.
As a property valuer of 35 five years’ experience in the Mid North Coast Property Market I call into question the validity of the Savilles valuation report (a Sydney/Brisbane Firm) which purportedly ascribes a value of $20 Million for the current Council properties.
The valuation report AND the instructions for the valuation (which would show the critical assumptions the valuer was required to make) should be made public documents for all to see and judge.
There simply is not enough market evidence to support that valuation figure in my opinion!
The mere fact that Council cannot lease out the top floor of Rigby House is clear proof that the is an overabundance of office space available for rent as no investor would pay the price tag of $20 Million knowing there is a surplus of office accommodation already in this town.
If Council still insist in pursuing the sale of the current administration building at its asking price the selling period would be at least 2 years and the 3% sales commission would see $600,000 of the imagined $20 million going to the selling agent!
It is time Council had a fulsome Public Consultation on this matter, unlike the “sham” public consultations we have seen happen with the likes of the Jetty Foreshore redevelopment and the Diggers Beach Amenities project.
Both of these in my opinion had all the hallmarks of Council just “ticking the boxes” and, dare I say, stacking the submissions to counter any adverse commentary on projects that Council were “hell-bent” on delivering despite public concerns.
Peter Strickland, GCert Prop, AssocDipBus(Val). AAPI
Certified Practicing Valuer