Gold Coast Council is set to sell the Bruce Bishop Car Park in Surfers Paradise despite a corruption investigation and Supreme Court action.
It’s been revealed Council now has a preferred bidder for the site and is expected to reap $48 million from the controversial sale.
Today’s Council meeting heard negotiations have been held with two parties over the last six to seven months.
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The intended buyer is Care Park which owns 35 car parks in Australia and operates another 400 worldwide for third parties.
It’s understood the company plans to continue to operate the Bruce Bishop site as a car park for the ‘foreseeable future’ but Planning Committee Chair Cameron Caldwell admits they may opt to develop the site in the future.
“This will mean that car parks that are in Surfers Paradise will be retained and that’s very important for business and we have always recognised that,” Councillor Caldwell told reporters.
“But equally there could well be an exciting development on the horizon which may provide a new stimulus in the centre of Surfers Paradise.”
Proceeds from the sale will be used to fund new projects in the cultural precinct which were also given the green light by Council today.
The sell-off of the car park comes despite a probe by the Crime & Corruption Commission (CCC) and Supreme Court action.
The CCC confirmed it was looking into allegations of corrupt conduct made by some Gold Coast councillors and allegations involving possible conflicts of interest on a range of development matters.
Legal action was also launched by local group Save Surfers Paradise which argued the sale may be unlawful, with a ruling expected in the next few weeks.
Save Surfers Paradise Secretary Deborah Kelly says she was disturbed by today’s development.
“I’m alarmed about that because the matter is before the court and before the CCC,” Ms Kelly said.
“We’ve got to wait for the judge’s decision before they can move forward.”
Ms Kelly also raised concerns about the amount of money that would be raised from the sale.
“If it’s true they’re selling this valuable community asset for $48 million then the ratepayers are really getting ripped off.”
“The replacement value of that asset is probably about $100 million,” Ms Kelly said.
A large portion of today’s Council meeting was held behind closed doors so Councillors could discuss matters that were ‘commercial in confidence’.
When discussion resumed several Councillors including Mayor Tom Tate and Deputy Mayor Donna Gates left the room after declaring a potential conflict of interest.