Car park sale 'kick in guts'

"There will be absolutely no alternative for the patrons of the theatre from walking about half a mile from the nearest other public car park" - Bruce Collier.
"There will be absolutely no alternative for the patrons of the theatre from walking about half a mile from the nearest other public car park" - Bruce Collier.
Opposition to the Dunedin City Council's sale of millions of dollars' worth of surplus land is growing, with the second recent sale to emerge infuriating a nearby community theatre.

The Mayfair Theatre, in South Dunedin, learnt yesterday an adjacent public car park used by patrons is for sale, with tenders closing in four days.

Theatre manager Bruce Collier described the news as ''a kick in the guts'' for the small charitable trust that runs the theatre.

The issue follows anger from Caledonian Bowling Club members, who last Friday learnt the council will sell the Andersons Bay Rd land the 135-year-old club is on.

The council yesterday admitted the theatre should have been informed before the ''for sale'' sign appeared in King Edward St.

The council plans to sell surplus land and property over the next two to three years in a move expected to raise about $10 million.

About 150 surplus parcels of land and property are planned for sale.

Many are smaller pieces of land bought to widen roads, or unneeded land near reservoirs, but there are also larger blocks at Logan Park and the bowling club.

Money raised from the sales, approved by delegation to council chief executive Sue Bidrose, is to be used to reduce council debt.

The council said earlier this year a list of the properties would not be made public because of commercial sensitivities.

But any potentially contentious sales would be brought to the council first.

But Mr Collier said he knew nothing of the public car park sale until a ''for sale'' sign went up about 11am yesterday.

Mr Collier said one of criticisms of the Mayfair - something out of the theatre's hands - was the lack of nearby parking.

''The council is going to remove the last remaining 20 car parks, and there will be absolutely no alternative for the patrons of the theatre from walking about half a mile from the nearest other public car park.''

There was only limited parking in nearby streets, he said.

After the council learnt of Mr Collier's concerns, acting chief executive Tony Avery said the Mayfair was supposed to have been informed.

''Something fell down,'' in the process, he said.

Since the issue came to his attention, he had called Mr Collier, and asked him to detail his concerns in an email or letter.

The council would consider those, and did not have to accept any tenders for the land.

Mr Avery said he was not aware of any other contentious sales coming up.

Mr Collier said knowing a mistake had been made was ''cold comfort'', and he would be putting the theatre's concerns to the council.

Some in the trust believed the theatre had an agreement with the council about the car park when Rankeilor St, behind the theatre, was closed.

The Mayfair Theatre Charitable Trust's lawyer was looking into that.

Fix the debt

If the council was interested in the repayment of debt it needs to make a lot more money, not sell everything that's not bolted down. Why not build a wind farm on the council owned land on the peninsula, they could generate enough electricity with a medium sized investment to give everyone in Dunedin slightly cheaper power and pay down the debt.

This could be used as an attracting feature for the city to business and other kiwis to move here. As it is we pay way too much for our power now as it is and the abundance of wind energy on the peninsula is evident by the trees that grow on a forty-five degree angle in several places up there. That's how to make money, not sell everything. If anything was to be sold it should be 45 million dollars' worth of rugby playing fields and facilities.

More suggestions

Hype: those are great ideas - I'd add the strip of playing grounds along the back of the St Kilda/St Clair beaches - they're pretty susceptible to erosion and the city at times has had to spend a lot of money to protect them after storms. Abandoning them to the sea as a buffer zone to protect South Dunedin would potentially save the DCC millions of dollars.

Share facilities, ease the burden

Mike Stk suggests "selling off the council-owned ground under some rugby clubs" to help cope with the enormous debt burden caused by the stadium.  Actually, this is not a bad idea.  
Since the stadium is here and it isn't much good for anything else it might as well be used for as many rugby games as can be scheduled, whether these are of interest to spectators or not.  Being a covered ground with natural and artificial augmented grass, it should be able to be used dawn till late.  That way there wouldn't be the need for as many grounds, just as there is not (according to the council) need for the bowling/social club because there are other clubs they could join. Some of those grounds are lovely pieces of real estate worth a goodly sum.  For instance the North Ground, a prime spot for student flats, would make a lot of money for the DCC. Rezoning for multi-story apartments would add to the value of the land before sale, without costing anything bar the paperwork.  Another with outstanding potential is Montecillo Park.  This is redundant since it's right next to Unity Park, and with its superior Harbour views and north facing aspect it would command  exceptional prices.  
Meanwhile the players could hardly complain since they would have the use of the much-lauded stadium.  Arranging their playing and practice times to fit in with other teams is a small sacrifice, compared with those non-rugby afficionado ratepayers have to make for (at present) professional rugby.

Feeding the stadium

rossjerry52 says "sell that useless stadium that seems to be the bane of our existence".

I agree, and I think that more people would also agree if they were told how bad the problem is. With the sale of the Mayfair car-park and the other asset sales spread over 2 to 3 years expected to raise about $10 million, it is useful to know that the FB Stadium is costing us over $20 million per year (losses, subsidies and debt servicing). That means that the $10 million will only pay for 6 months worth of stadium costs. Or, in the 3 years it takes to raise the $10 million, their stadium will have cost us over $60 million.

Selling it would not eliminate this ongoing cost, but it would make a big difference; probably enough to save DCHL from bankruptcy, and enough to save the Mayfair car-park from needing to be sold. For most sports the loss of the stadium won't be noticed. For the ORFU, boo-hoo, their just deserts will be forthcoming (I hope).

Everybody was well warned

Build it and they'll come. Great money making asset for the city. We know what we're doing. Dunedin people filled the town hall in protest. Now it's time to pay the piper all are dragged into the payment of increasing losses and growing debt and yes, now asset sales as predicted. They didn't come, its a liablity, they didn't know what they were doing.

The faint hope is that our council's upcoming report on our white elephant may result in major cut backs to its operations buget. Its management company should be scrapped if unable to cover its costs

Time for rugby and its fans to stand and pay their way - pigs might fly.

The question must be what ratepayers are going to do if the situation continues. The council takes no real action to cut costs and assets sales become a yearly requirement to council budget balancing? Doesn't it all sound familiar?

Closed sale?

Why have the 'for sale' signs only gone up 11am yesterday when tenders close in 4 days?  Wouldn't make it much of a public sale, would it?

How do buyers know what's being offered?

So if the Council won't release a list of properties they wish to sell because of supposed "commercial sensitivities" then how is any potential buyer to know of what is being offered for sale and at what price? [Abridged]

10 cents worth

Slightly off 'nub' dude.

If Mr Collier and co had been informed about the land sale...there would have been less qualms. But Mr Avery says the communication processes were let down along the way (have I heard this before somewhere ?).

Who would buy a stadium that isnt functional, or functions less than what it is capable of? Can't buy it based on looks.

The DCC doesn't want to anatgonise the rfu. Easier to antagonise weaker parties instead.


Only the start

No-one should be surprised that the DCC is selling off assets as the consolidated debt has now blown out to unsustainable levels. Unless council rates rise by around 10% they cannot ever hope to pay down the debt without selling off the family silver. So far its the Caledonian Bowling Club and a car park - before long it will be anything and everything they can sell off to get some quick money. In the meantime the stadium will continue to bleed millions, and DVML will continue to underwrite loss making events. The Chinese Gardens will keep losing money, as will the Settlers Museum, Town Hall and pretty much anything this council has anything to do with. As business managers they would have gone broke years ago if not for their ability to keep going back to the ratepayers for handouts and borrowing tens of millions of dollars. Be assured of more outrage and more disappointment as our council sell more ratepayer assets to pay for their folly.

Free parking anyone?

While others will want to portray smoke screens here, if I get this right, the nub of the probelm is the council isn't allowed to sell off it's excess land because folk want free parking?

Sell off some rugby clubs instead

When the council tells Ms Bidrose to sell off bits of the city to "reduce council debt" really they're saying "the interest on the rugby stadium is killing us, we have to do something".

This problem  is exacerbated because of the extra $45m the city was forced to borrow when the rugby community didn't stump up with the promised 'private fundraising' that was a condition the same council had made on the go ahead for actually building the rugby stadium. If we'd known then that rugby was going to welch on the deal it wouldn't have been built.

Perhaps the council could focus rugby's minds if they started selling off the council-owned ground under some rugby clubs instead of doing things that affect every other organisation in the city for the sake of rugby.

Selling the wrong thing

For god’s sake, sell that useless stadium that seems to be the bane of our existence as residents. Where did the debt come from? What will ten million really do when the debt is over four hundred million? Every year we will be poorer, for the upkeep of this white elephant is huge. Ten million will only pay to service the debt for how long? One year? Two years? What do we do when we have sold everything and we still owe over four hundred million? How will this improve the city? Think about shooting the elephant and some real way of making large amounts of money, not selling the family silver.


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