Council's buy looks to the future

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 09:04 13/06/2014
Deisha Graham
FAIRFAX NZ
SOLD: The Smith City building, seen from Kinross St next to Stadium 2000, which had a wall affected by last year’s earthquake.

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The Marlborough District Council is buying the Smith City building on the corner of Blenheim's Redwood and Kinross streets.

Mayor Alistair Sowman said the council had regretted selling the land, next to Stadium 2000, and when the opportunity came up to buy it back, it acted.

Council chief executive Andrew Besley said yesterday the purchase price was still being finalised, but that should happen within the next week.

"This is because some repairs and painting work is being done to the building and we are negotiating the value of this work."

It sold the land to a developer in 2000, who built the building now leased to Smith City and CRT-Farmlands.

Sowman said the purchase had been authorised by councillors, and the building would continue to be leased. The rents would cover the cost of interest on the loan for the purchase, he said.

The land was part of the council's long-term planning to enable expansion of the Marlborough Lines Stadium 2000, which was under pressure, Sowman said.

The last report from the Stadium 2000 Trust showed the complex was getting 600,000 visits a year, he said. It offered Marlborough a terrific sports and recreation complex with a wide range of activities.

"This is obviously a strategic purchase, offering opportunity for the stadium facilities to be extended at some time in the future when demand requires."

The council "kicked itself for years" because it sold it, Sowman said.

"This is a major area of our town. This could be a sporting precinct, it has the ability to expand at a later date. We grabbed the opportunity while it was there."

The council had been working with the owner while negotiating the earthquake damage to the building. During that discussion, Sowman said the owner had been told the council would be interested in buying it if it was available. "They felt it was time for them to move on."

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- The Marlborough Express

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