Major CBD property owner backs Cultural and Civic Space
CITING a 'greater understanding of the situation' Gowings is now throwing their full support behind the Cultural and Civic Space, despite previously criticising the inclusion of Council offices in the build.
The Advocate understands that in recent days John Gowing approached Coffs Harbour City Council Mayor Denise Knight wishing to issue a clarification in the form of a media release, stating their full support for the $76.5m Gordon Street project.
The turnaround comes after the company made a submission to the State Government in relation to council's development application for the project which criticised a number of aspects of the proposal.
"We object strongly to the inclusion of the proposed café and Council administration offices within the development," Chris Mulcahy, Head of Property, wrote in their submission.
With Council relying on the sale of a number of buildings including Rigby House to fund the development, Gowings expressed concerns there will be a glut of office space in the CBD once the buildings are sold.
"This is the last thing the CBD needs after finally getting back on its feet after decades of decline.
"There is currently an adequate supply of office space in the CBD as evidenced by the areas of vacant office space and limited new office space development over recent years."
Instead they suggested a residential component in the development rather than Council offices.
The Gowings submission also highlighted concerns in relation to parking but congratulated Council on the art gallery, library, museum and cultural space component saying it will contribute to the cultural diversity and vibrancy of the city centre.
But on Monday John Gowing issued a press release stating the company's full support for the project and criticising the media for placing undue focus on: "peripheral concerns regarding the Council Administration Offices and Coffs CBD public parking provision."
Mr Gowing went on to state his full support for what he described as a visionary project.
"We believe it will contribute significantly to the cultural diversity and vibrancy of the City Centre.
"Armed with a greater understanding of the situation, I now fully appreciate and support Council's need for the council administration offices to form part of the development and in the 'City Centre Parking Plan' being currently undertaken by Council any concerns I may have held regarding adequate public parking provision have been alleviated."
The original Gowings submission is one of 874 made to the State Government's Department of Planning, Industry and Environment who will ultimately be responsible for approving or denying the application.
With such a large number of submissions, Council has asked for more time to wade through them all.
At last week's Council meeting Councillors were once again divided on whether or not to move ahead with awarding tenders to progress the project.
Mayor Knight used her casting vote to support three separate motions to award tenders for three key roles: project manager, head design consultant and cost manager.
The development application to demolish the buildings along Gordon Street to make way for the controversial project was also approved with Cr Amos tipping the vote.