A court has ruled the sale of the Bruce Bishop car park in Surfers Paradise can proceed.
City of Gold Coast Council last week voted in favour of selling the site to Melbourne-based Care Park which plans to continue operating it as a car park for now.
Council will pocket $48 million from the sale with the proceeds to go towards funding the cultural precinct.
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Legal action was launched by the Save Surfers Paradise Group earlier this year to try and stop the sale going ahead, arguing it was unlawful.
Save Surfers Paradise claimed the decision to sell the site was unreasonable and against the public interest and was made based on an ulterior purpose.
Save Surfers Paradise Secretary Deborah Kelly says they are naturally disappointed at the Court’s decision.
“But we understand that this area of law is a very grey one, and we were always knew the decision could go either way,” Ms Kelly said.
Council has welcomed the decision and described it as a win for ratepayers.
“It is important to remember that the impending sale of the transit centre makes financial sense because it is a loss making asset,” CEO Dale Dickson said.
“The sale means we don’t have to borrow $48 million to fund the city’s new art gallery.”
Ms Kelly says they will fight on and insists today’s ruling does not mean the end of the fight.
“Firstly, SSP is considering whether it should appeal the judge’s decision and has a month to make that decision.
We will have our legal team carefully consider the terms of the judgement to see if there are prospects for appeal.”
“Secondly, SSP has previously requested the Attorney General’s “fiat” or permission to continue the case in the public interest, in the event that the Court determines that we do not have standing.
“We shall now follow up with the Attorney General to see whether she will grant consent.”
Ms Kelly says they also remain concerned at the sale price of $48 million, arguing the site is worth much more.
A valuation report released by Council last week showed the site had been valued independently at between $47.3 million and $49.1 million.
“The rates valuation they have handed out is not a proper valuation for sale, Ms Kelly said”
“Other development sites are selling for far more per square metre than this proposed sale.
Our investigations indicate that this is a fire sale, especially when one considers that the replacement value of the asset would be in the range of $80-$100 million.”
But Mr Dickson has defended the sale and the price paid for the site.
“There has been a lot of inaccurate commentary by various individuals about the merits of Council’s decision including inaccurate claims about car parking availability after the sale, the price of car parking, and the valuation of the property,” Mr Dickson said.
“I remain very confident the council has made this decision for the right reasons and with the public interest very clearly in mind.”
“We will now proceed to finalise a contract and move forward.”
Council says it will now seek to recoup legal costs from Save Surfers Paradise.