Mayor won't confirm or deny details of sale

WILMA MCCORKINDALE IN DUNEDIN
Last updated 14:28 20/02/2013
Southland Times photo
WILMA MCCORKINDALE/Fairfax NZ
Sold: Carisbrook deal done.

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Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull will neither confirm or deny the possibility the city has made a deal in lieu of an immediate cash sale for Carisbrook.

Mr Cull said he could not comment on reports a joint venture between the Dunedin City Council and construction company Calder Stewart is incorporated into a deal for the sale of Carisbrook - the sale of which was announced a week ago.

"I can't confirm or deny the detail," Mr Cull said.

"There are details in there but as far as I'm concerned it's a sale. Many sales of property have conditions and this one is no different from that.

"What I'm saying is I can't divulge those because they are commercially sensitive at the moment, confidential. As far as I'm concerned in the big wash-up this is a sale of that property to Calder Stewart."

D Scene asked Mr Cull if Calder Stewart was paying for the ground upfront in cash once the sale went through.

"I didn't say that," he said.

"I just said it's a sale to Calder Stewart. The details of how they pay for it are part of the confidential part of the details. I can't comment on that."

The council bought Carisbrook for $7m in 2009, based on a registered valuation obtained by council. Its reasoning for buying the ground was to shore up the financial viability of the former owner of Carisbrook, the Otago Rugby Football Union - which was to be the new tenant at the then planned Forsyth Barr Stadium. The union was in debt to council ($2m) and to the Bank of New Zealand (about $4m).

The council borrowed to pay for the ground, resulting interest payments footed by ratepayers. The council has also had to pay maintenance costs as well as lost rental since the ORFU moved out more than year ago.

Two critics of the councill have this week laid formal complaints with the Office of the Auditor-General and asked it to incorporate the Carisbrook sale into its current investigation of council-related property deals.

The council has lost money in its sale of the Carisbrook car park, adjacent housing, and the ground, in comparison to what it paid for the ground, and the losses required serious explanation, Russell Garbutt said.

The other complainant, former Stop The Stadium campaign head Bev Butler, said if the latest transaction with Calder Stewart included ratepayers not immediately being paid for the ground, losses would spiral even further.

"The question is will we ever see that money?" she said.

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The auditor-general's office confirmed it is considering a request to inquire into the purchase and sale of Carisbrook.

"We are considering this inquiry in our usual way as part of our inquiries process," a spokesperson said.

- D Scene

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