The developer of the new Department of Primary Industries complex has hit out at comments by an Orange city councillor opposing the development.
Cr Kevin Duffy has said the former Orange Base Hospital site in Prince Street should become a city park and not a government office block.
He said the state government could save $60 million if the DPI stayed at its current site in Kite Street and refurbished the building.
And he said that if the DPI left its current site he feared, alongside other businesses proposing to move from the area, the precinct would become “the new Kurim” referring to the demolished Kurim Shopping Centre in Glenroi.
However, Verde Property group director Jody Gosling said the new development would be good for Orange on several fronts.
“It is very, very ill-informed comments by him,” she said of Cr Duffy.
“I’ve had a couple of calls from people saying he is voicing his own opinions and not the opinions of the ratepayers.”
She said the existing DPI site owners were not putting money into the local economy.
“It is owned by a Melbourne fund. All the money has been going to Melbourne for 25 years, not one cent has stayed in Orange,” she said.
“We are buying the land from council. That sale will benefit ratepayers.”
Ms Gosling said the Verde group was committed to Orange, would be employing local workers on the project, and planned on-going involvement with Orange.
“I think everybody has a right to the facts,” she said.
She said she had toured the current site and believed it needed some work.
“The state of repair, it hasn’t been maintained,” she said.
“The DPI are entitled to choose where they want to go. If your house was perfect would you get up and move somewhere else?”
Ms Gosling said developing the old base hospital would benefit Orange.
“It is a very good use of what was an eyesore,” she said.
Apart from constructing the four-storey new base for the DPI, the Verde group also plans to convert the old ambulance station on the corner of Prince and Anson streets into a bar and eatery.
Cr Duffy said on Monday he stood by his comments.
“I am going to do a live stream about the situation,” he said.
“I do know the owners [of the Kite Street building].”
Cr Duffy said he understood the annual rent paid by the DPI on the building would rise to $2 million a year if the building was updated for modern technology, including computers.
He said about $60 million could be saved if the DPI stayed in a refurbished building, “which is what they do on a regular basis in Sydney”.
“We could spend that on heaps of things,” he said.
Cr Duffy said his comments followed contact with business people around the existing site who were concerned they would lose trade if the DPI moved.
“The business owners at the bottom end of the town are dead-set scared,” he said.
Cr Duffy said Orange would need more open space as its population grew.
“Seventy five per cent of people would want it as open space,” he said.
The council has approved a three-lot subdivision of the site: two lots will be sold to the Verde group, including the ambulance station, with council retaining the third.