Council to make decision on Souths site purchase

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times

The future of the Souths Furniture building is expected to be heavily debated tonight following lengthy and sometimes heated discussion between Bunbury city councillors last week.

The owners of the CBD building approached the council about buying the Wellington Street property after closing down last year.

The council will tonight decide whether to accept the findings of a due diligence report and proceed with buying the building. In a briefing session last week, questions were raised over the possibility of future costs if the council was to go ahead with the purchase.

The council will be recommended to accept the findings and authorise chief executive officer Mal Osborne to finalise negotiations.

While the findings and price of the building are under wraps, the Herald understands the price tag could be more than $1 million.

Mayor Gary Brennan told the Herald he was confident in the report and he was looking forward to moving forward on the building.

“The council resolution at the moment is to purchase the building within a price range, subject to the acceptance of the due diligence report,” Mr Brennan said.

“In my view, the due diligence report is a robust document that has been prepared with input from a number of our professional staff and consultants and I’m looking forward to council proceeding.”

Mr Brennan said last week’s lengthy discussion was part of the process.

“I respect the fact that elected members have a right to seek clarification from our professional staff on their reports to council,” he said.

“It’s also very important for elected members to respect the professionalism, experience and knowledge of our officers in preparing and presenting reports to council.”

While the building was formally earmarked for potential inclusion in the city’s planned Civic and Cultural Precinct, suggestions last week included demolition for a greenfield site or redevelopment for leasing.

“Council hasn’t made any decision on the future of the building,” Mr Brennan told the Herald.

“First of all it’s got to finalise the acquisition of the building and once that is made then the future possibilities can be explored by our officers.

“They’ll bring reports back to council with recommendations based on robust research and consultation.”

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