Council steps in to secure land

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URBAN rejuvenation group South Alive is celebrating. The Invercargill City Council (ICC) has stepped in to ensure the community park the group developed is secured for the future.
‘ It shows their faith in the sustainability of the whole urban
rejuvenation of the
area. ’
The ICC has bought three adjoining pieces of land beside the South City Mall which have a rateable value of $120,000.
Director of environmental and planning services Pamela Gare would not disclose the purchase price but said an independent valuation was obtained and the purchase was at valuation.
The money came from ICC reserve funds, she said.
South Alive chairwoman Robyn Hickman said she was ‘‘thrilled and relieved’’.
The land was put on the market by Alexandra›based company Contel Holdings, and there was a ‘‘real risk’’ the community facility could have been lost, she said.
‘‘We’re very, very happy, because it is not always easy for the council to respond to a request for money… It shows their faith in the sustainability of the whole urban rejuvenation of the area, and their faith in us.’’
Mrs Hickman said after an old house on the land was fire damaged, South Alive volunteers approached Contel Holdings offering to clean up and maintain the land.
About 34 tonnes of rubble and rubbish was cleared and the area transformed into a community gar› den, a small grassed area, a half basketball court, an outdoor exercise area, and an artspace.
South Alive rented the land for $1 a year, and that would continue, Mrs Gare said.
She said when South Alive approached the ICC and said it wanted to buy the land but had no money, the ICC was happy to help.
‘‘The park is very well used and seen as a community asset. There was a risk of losing it to a purchaser who may not have wanted to continue to lease it to South Alive, or who may have wanted to build on it. It would have been a dreadful blow to South Alive and the community had council not secured it.’’
The South City Mall, also owned by Contel Holdings, is on the market too. In two titles, it has a rateable value of $1.17 million.
Mall property manager Trevor Thayer, who is also a commercial real estate agent with Professionals Mac› Pherson Realty Ltd, said the property was being marketed jointly by himself and Harcourts and would be auc› tioned next month.
About $250,000 had been spent upgrading the mall over the past 15 months and the owners had decided it was time to sell, he said.
‘‘Two of the major shareholders are in their 80s and one in his late 70s. They have decided it is time for new blood to take the mall over.’’
South Alive has its offices and a community art gallery in the mall. Mrs Hickman said she did not know what would happen if the mall was sold but hoped South Alive would be able to stay.

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