Story & photo Melissa Hargraves
The Lismore Neighbourhood Centre (LNC) received good news at the Lismore City Council (LCC) meeting last night when councillors voted to sell the Bounty Street property they currently occupy to LNC at a yet-to-be-negotiated price. LCC also agreed to finance the purchase.
It was timely news for the LNC as their current lease expires in May 2013.
Negotiations began in 2009 when council put the property up for sale. A regionally advertised expression-of-interest (EOI) process did not attract commercial investors to the property so LNC opted for a selective-tender process, which saw the offer marginally increase from $300,000 to $305,000. LCC agreed in their meeting last night that the new offer will be the minimum price for negotiations.
The sale price was hotly debated at the meeting as a valuer’s report from a few months ago assessed a value of $500,000 (plus GST) if there were vacant possession. Cr Greg Bennett noted the large difference and Cr Neil Marks suggested that the LNC would be ‘having your cake and eating it too’ by getting a low purchase price and cheap finance.
However, Cr Isaac Smith drew attention to the costs council incurs by retaining the property.
‘We believe in what the LNC are trying to do, but we as a council need to rid ourselves of an asset that is costing us a lot of money in depreciation and costs. I acknowledge that this property could be worth more, but we would have to hold this property for a few more years to wait for the market to come back up again, meanwhile costing us around $300,000– $400,000.
‘This is a win-win for us and the LNC, which gives such wonderful support to our community. Let our general manager deputise and give us a good outcome here.’
CEO of LNC, Jenni Beetson-Mortimer, told Echonetdaily, ‘we are extremely happy… this provides us with security of tenure to be able to operate our services long term. We will be able to source other government funding once we own the property, which we haven’t been able to do in the past.’
LNC have been at the Lismore CBD address for the past ten years after moving from a house in McKenzie Street. Being in the CBD is important for the LNC.
‘Usually the people who access us may not have access to vehicles, and people know where we are now,’ Jenni said.