THE controversial sale of a Beaufort Street carpark has been cancelled for now, but Vincent council will remove free one hour parking there to stop bleeding money.
The council’s been pondering a plan to swap its landlocked portion of the Beaufort/Barlee Street carpark with the private owner Palassis which owns the bit facing Barlee Street.
That’d give Vincent a nice road-facing chunk of land at the Barlee corner for public open space, with the street able to be closed off to expand it.
That swap deal proved hugely tricky and expensive, potentially costing the council $1.9 million in lost land value and park installation, so a market sale was considered instead.
Councillors have now backed away from selling, with many local businesses objecting to a sale fearing a loss of parking.
Mayor Emma Cole noted: “It has been costing ratepayers to keep the carpark … upwards of $100,000” each year.
The council will now remove the first hour free to stop losing so much money, at the suggestion of former councillor Dudley Maier.
The carpark’s days are numbered though, with Palassis able to go ahead and develop any time after February 2022 if their lease to council isn’t extended.
“Regardless of what we do, that will be the trigger point for what happens with this carpark,” Ms Cole says.
The iconic Beaufort Street sign will likely have to be moved in the near future given it is “unlikely to be compatible” with the development, the council resolution says, as it encroaches on the private land.
For now the council will look into making some pedestrian and cyclist-focused improvements on the strip and trial temporary public spaces in side streets.
by DAVID BELL