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Basildon town centre shopping parade on the market for £7.4million
6:00am Tuesday 3rd December 2013 in Echo News
ONE of the biggest shopping parades in Basildon town centre has been put up for sale – and the council put in a “predatory” bid to buy it.
Freedom House, which encompasses the 30 shops in East Walk opposite Brooke House, is valued at about £7.4million after its owners went into administration.
The Echo has learned the council put in a bid of between £6million and £7million with the owners, which was rejected.
It did look like the authority had a deal, but a council source told the Echo the owners changed their marketing tactics and it fell through.
The owners decided Freedom House should be sold as part of a package with other properties it owns in other town centres across the country.
The council pulled out and the agents for the owners, appointed by the administrators Jones Lang LeSalle, confirmed the parade was still on the market on Friday.
The authority would have borrowed the millions to pay for the investment, but calculated it would have ultimately made a six-figure profit.
This could have been invested in the town, to improve the shop frontages on East Walk, which is mainly composed of charity shops and independent stores, and the parade’s decor.
The source pointed out local authorities tend to get lower interest rates on borrowing than commercial enterprises.
Phil Turner, the Tory council’s deputy leader, said: “I think this shows the administration sees itself as a vibrant council that is looking to do positive things to improve the lives of its residents in Basildon. I think it shows our ambition in looking for opportunities to take advantage of for the benefit of our residents.
“It is almost like a predatory approach from the council when an opportunity for an asset comes along and we would plough the benefits of any asset back into the community.”
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