Prime CBD land sale is on agenda

COFFS Harbour City councillors will be asked to approve the direct sale of a multi-million-dollar parcel of council-owned CBD land at their meeting tomorrow .

The councillors have been told by staff that the sale and redevelopment of the 3248sq m site in Gordon St would be a substantial boost to the local economy and "could be the catalyst that the city centre requires to encourage others to invest".

The site is in two parcels - the 2236sq m site contains the old Salvation Army building at 25-31 Gordon St and the 1012sq m site contains an old house which has been converted to commercial offices at 23 Gordon St.

If the councillors decide to go ahead with the sale, they will then have to decide how to spend a windfall of close to $3 million.

LJ Hooker Commercial Coffs Harbour principal Troy Mitchell said the only comparable sale in recent years had been about two years ago when the former council car park at 218 Harbour Dr, a site of about 2400sq m, was sold for $900 per square metre, a price which would value the council's Gordon St land parcel at $2.9232 million.

Mr Mitchell said government land holdings were generally sold at public auction in order to create a sense of "arm's length" business, whereas direct sale opened the door to perceptions that deals may have been done behind closed doors.

Mr Mitchell said Coffs Harbour was very well placed compared to other regional locations.

"We enjoy a very low vacancy factor generally."

He said while Coffs Harbour had some office accommodation available, including the top floor of the three-storey office block under construction at 218 Harbour Dr and the top floor of the Department of Community Services building opposite 23-31 Gordon St, existing premises did not always "tick all the boxes" for clients wanting office space.

A long-time local property player said the council had bought a number of properties in Gordon St during a period of expansion some years ago.

"It is an interesting time to go to market in this climate," he said.

"The development market is very poor at the moment."

"If you move in and acquire significant sites and take them out of play for the private sector it is usually to try to maximise the benefit to the community by entertaining some development or by going to the market when you can maximise the profit.

"It is one of the most significant sites in the CBD, but the buildings on it don't do it justice."