A LOCAL businessman has launched an impassioned appeal against a CBD land sale, saying it will end in "devastation" for the local accommodation industry.
Frank Sergi, who has financial interests in a handful of local businesses including Centrepoint Apartments, has pleaded with the city's councillors to reconsider the sale of its Railway Street block.
He said the purchaser's intention for a mixed-use development on the prime piece of land would lead to "a dozen or so" local, family-owned accommodation providers dying a slow financial death, not refurbishing, and generally detracting from the city's image.
Council resolved to sell the land to Ascenzo Industries (AI) for $2.5 million two weeks ago.
The company has revealed it could incorporate accommodation, corporate offices, retail stores and restaurants as part of a major development on the site, with construction to start in about 12 months.
Mr Sergi said the timing was wrong for council, for local business and for the community.
"The land, which is the largest single adjacent to the Griffith CBD, is being sold during the most depressed real estate market in living memory," Mr Sergi said.
"The cost of the land on a square foot basis, including carrying costs since acquisition, is still relatively modest in commercial terms.
"Its long-term value potential is far in excess of any immediate consideration."
Council purchased the block in 2005 with the intention of building a civic centre on the site but had a change of plans in 2010 when it decided to expand its existing administration building instead.
Four councillors, who had held on to the vision of a civic hub, opposed the sale of the land at an extraordinary council meeting last week
But Mr Sergi said the sale signalled the start of much bigger concerns for the community.
He argued the development's location would give its lessees an unfair advantage over existing local businesses and that more accommodation in the city would be surplus to requirement on most nights.
"By its nature, the accommodation industry is one of the first industries to cop it in the neck when tough times such as prolonged drought invade our economy," Mr Sergi said.
"Any businessman has to accept any number and variety of risks as part of the scenery.
"This includes new entrants into the market place however, in this case, I would like to put the argument that it is detrimental to the town and the accommodation sector of ratepayers."
Mr Sergi sent an email to the city's councillors this week, urging them to reconsider the sale.
But Griffith mayor Mike Neville told ***The Area News the decision had been made and council would follow it through.
"Council decided to offer this parcel of land for sale quite a while ago and we've had a proposal, which we have accepted," Cr Neville said.
"We're very committed to this project and, while the developer may not be local, this is people investing in our region.
"The sale is at a figure we are very happy with, especially on a block that is costing us $112,000 a year to keep."