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MacNaughton place sells to local buyer

Image Caption: 1 MacNaughton Place, a “substantial brick building [with] 19 individual, air-conditioned offices, communal bathroom and kitchen facilities, ample storage, onsite car parking for 14 vehicles and a lockup garage”, was described in marketing material thus: “The sparkle of the mighty Clarence River is once again being enjoyed in McLachlan Park and the establishment of new public facilities, public pontoons and boat moorings are proving attractive for river boaties. “Investors with the foresight to recognise the inevitable future growth potential, and who acquire property in this Town square, will be the ones to maximise the capital benefits and opportunities to come.” Image: L J Hooker, Maclean

Geoff Helisma

Around 40 people were in the River Room at the Maclean Services Club last Friday September 15 to witness the auction of the former North Coast Water Office at 1 MacNaughton Place, Maclean.
However, no one in the room made a bid for the property – the one and only bid was made via a mobile phone held by LJ Hooker Maclean’s licensee, Ken Giese.

Auctioneer Travis McConnell’s call for an opening bid drew silence; after which he volunteered the vendor’s bid of $545,000; the property sold for $550,000, to a local bidder who did not want to be named until the sale was settled (90 days).

The sale was a part of Clarence Valley Council’s (CVC) property rationalisation, which was initiated to help meet the NSW Government’s Fit for the Future requirements, and to reduce duplication and operating costs.

Following the auction, CVC general manager Ashley Lindsay said he thought the property “would have fetched a bit more; being a waterfront property in an iconic location”.
“It reached council’s reserve, so I guess that shows it was purchased at the market rate,” he said.

The Independent suggested that revenue from leasing the building would be enough to pay off an investment loan – a well known Australian lender’s an online mortgage calculator revealed that, at four percent interest over a 25-year term, repayments would be $670 a week.

Interest only payments would be $423.

Mr Giese put some perspective on that supposition when he pointed out that there is a lot of vacant office space in Maclean, which has been unable to attract tenants for a significant time.
The property’s sale is controversial in the eyes of some of the town’s people.

In November last year, six people made deputations to a CVC Environment, Planning & Community Committee meeting to try and change councillors’ minds on the sale of the property.
New councillors Greg Clancy and Peter Ellem (along with mayor Jim Simmons) were persuaded that this was the right course of action – councillors Andrew Baker and Richie Williamson stuck with the original decision.

However, at the following week’s full council meeting, the old guard won out against the mayor and the new councillors, including Cr Debrah Novak.

Councillor Williamson foreshadowed the council officer’s recommendation, however, when Cr Clancy moved the committee meeting’s resolution, to not sell McNaughton Place, Cr Williamson pointed out that meeting protocol gave the caller of an item the first option to move a motion.

Councillor Baker called the item at the beginning of the meeting – this is a process where all items on the agenda are read out by the mayor (meeting chair) at the beginning of the meeting. Only called items are debated.

Consequently, Cr Clancy’s motion was not debated.

Councillor Baker moved the officer’s original recommendation (seconded by Cr Williamson), which did not include the committee meeting’s resolution to “carry out further public consultation with the community to determine the best use of 1 MacNaughton Place, Maclean”.

Councillors Baker, Lysaught, Williamson, Toms and Kingsley stayed true to the original decision to include Mac Naughton Place among the nine properties CVC had decided to sell.

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