Whistler St car park will cost $10M to bring up to fire safety standards according to Manly Council and the Chamber of Commerce. They are wrong.
They’re stating our 45-year-old car park needs to comply with fire standards for a building built today.
But the requirements, though adequate for public safety, are less stringent for older buildings like ours.
They have to be - otherwise councils all over Australia would be sent broke trying to keep their public buildings up to date. The disappointing part is that the Council and the Chamber must know this, but they keep repeating the wildly inaccurate figure anyway.
The real compliance cost is about $500,000.
And one has to question the fact that if the Whistler Street car park is so bad, why is it listed in Council's current financial accounts as being in good condition and required no maintenance in the 12 months?
Below is the breakdown of costs required to bring Whistler St up to the relevant Building Code of Australia fire standards, as prepared for Good For Manly by an independent assessor.
This isn’t the first time the Council has bad-mouthed the car park.
In 2013 they said the building had concrete cancer and was “falling down”, before later admitting that wasn’t true.
Later that year, the building became “a fire hazard”, which required a $5M safety upgrade - ten times too much.
This year it’s a $7 - 10M safety upgrade - twenty times too much.
The truth is the building is structurally sound and will last for at least another 20 years, and probably for another forty. It needs $0.5M in compliance work and some more in beautification projects like a green wall or murals on the outside to make it look more attractive.
Pulling the car park down and selling/99-year-leasing the land for apartments and shops is a key part of the council’s Revitalise Manly (formally Manly2015) Masterplan. The revenue produced from this long term lease will go towards covering the cost of the new 500 space car park under Manly Oval.
Without the disposition of the Whistler Street car park, the whole scheme falls in a heap. Hmm .. I wonder if that has anything to do with the grossly exaggerated numbers being pushed by Manly Council?
Candy Bingham, Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.