Airport park negotiations come to a crashing halt
AS the community waits for an update on what exactly is planned for the Coffs Harbour Airport Enterprise Park, a frustrated business owner has shared her vision for the site.
Dr Janne Lindrum, managing director of Lindrum Group of Companies, had been involved in the expression of interest process with Coffs Harbour City Council currently under way but pulled out after negotiations broke down.
She says she spent three years working on the proposal but became increasingly frustrated at what she sees as poor planning and a lack of a clear vision for the site.
"I also spent a considerable amount of money working on the concept. In early dialogue with airport management we were advised that the intention was to create a vibrant enterprise hub. We may have been seriously misled," Ms Lindrum said.
The Lindrum Group vision for the park included an 'art hotel' and associated art trail and also an i-Accelerate 'business incubator' campus based on the successful Wollongong model.
In February, Ms Lindrum brought a senior representative from the Pacific Marriott Hotel chain to meet with airport management and senior council staff but was not able to secure a presentation.
A representative from Coffs Harbour City Council said the Lindrum Group proposal was discussed through its independent advisers over a period of seven months from October 2018 until April 2019.
"We were unable to reach commercial terms and the proposed hotel development morphed into a much broader 'Film City' concept by the proponent. We requested a detailed proposal which has never been provided," a council spokesperson said.
"Without a business case or other financial documentation it is very difficult to progress the proposal further."
In June, the council's director of business services Andrew Beswick indicated there would be a formal event launching the Airport Enterprise Park in July.
"The proposed launch event in July did not proceed. However early works have commenced on site," the council spokesperson said.
Various tenants who have had to make way for the enterprise park have been critical of the process.
Coffs Skydivers management were in "total shock" when they were told in October they had just two months to get out as their premises was up for demolition.
"We were told it was going to be a long way down the track, then we were told they didn't know what was going on, and then in October we were told the building was going to be demolished and that we had two months to get out," Coffs Skydivers operations manager and chief instructor Lawrence Hill said.
They were able to negotiate another six months and have since relocated their business to 65 Albany St.
In the lead-up to the federal election, Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals Leader Michael McCormack flew into Coffs Harbour to announce a $10 million boost for the project.
Coffs Harbour City Council is currently working on a number of other funding proposals to the State and Federal Government to help fund the venture, estimated to cost $24 million.