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The sale of Carisbrook is at "the contractual stage" as the Dunedin City Council looks to conclude negotiations with a buyer, city property manager Robert Clark says.
And, while a deal before Christmas could not be guaranteed, it was hoped a profit from the sale could yet be made, Mr Clark said yesterday.
He was in talks with two "substantial" buyers and had been contacted yesterday by a potential third party.
"We are at the contractual stage with one party where we are finalising a conditional document, subject to council approval," he said.
Mr Clark hoped to report on the sale to the council's property subcommittee by early next month, but any deal would then be referred to a full council meeting for final approval.
Asked if a sale was possible before Christmas, Mr Clark said he would "do my very best", but exactly when an unconditional sale was confirmed would depend on what councillors decided.
The council bought Carisbrook, together with eight nearby Burns St houses, a shed, and neighbouring land used as a car park, for $7 million in 2009, once plans to build Forsyth Barr Stadium were confirmed.
The council had since sold six of the eight houses and the shed, for about $700,000, and half the car park for an undisclosed sum.
Yesterday, he said the council still had about $4 million in debt from the purchase, but he was "hoping to reduce that shortly" from other sale proceeds - excluding Carisbrook itself - although he would not elaborate.
Asked if he hoped the sale of Carisbrook, once complete, would cover whatever debt remained, Mr Clark said: "I'm looking to achieve more than that."
Talk of selling the ground has continued for more than two years, and the council has so far incurred about $200,000 in holding costs since the Otago Rugby Football Unit quit the ground on October 1 last year.
The council had hoped to sell the ground by then, to avoid the extra costs, but negotiations proved more time-consuming than expected - despite potential buyers showing interest as early as January last year.
The 30,000sq m stadium was zoned industrial. An international tender process run by property consultant Colliers International New Zealand had attracted five interested parties by May this year.
The five included a Dunedin investor and a Dunedin family, an expatriate with a "substantial amount of money", and two Christchurch-based organisations.
Mr Clark would not say who remained in the race for the site yesterday.
He accepted the sale process had taken a long time, but said that could be normal for "properties of this nature".
"We are selling an old stadium with a whole lot of buildings on it, which has development potential, in a market and a world economy which is regarded as mediocre."
There was no one sticking point in the negotiations, but rather a variety of issues that required "a substantial amount of negotiation", he said.
Asked if money remained an issue, Mr Clark said that was "always a negotiating point until the deal is completed".