TOWN hall bosses are to proceed with a bid to buy a town centre store after hearing the multi-million price tag could be paid off in 15 years.
Blackpool Council wants to buy the Wilkinson’s site on Talbot Road and incorporate the site into the £220m new Central Business District.
The DIY chain has put the property on the market for around £5.5m with a guarantee of a leaseback arrangement stretching for at least 10 years.
Carl Baker, assistant chief executive for property at the council, told a meeting of the executive committee the opportunity to buy the building was “difficult to ignore from the council’s investment portfolio perspective”.
He added: “We could pay back our prudential borrowing over 15 years and return a healthy profit.
“The lease is well above market levels and represents a clear return, and it would also give us the potential for other Central Business District development.”
Mr Baker said buying the site would also give the council opportunity to remodel the exterior, to operate the Wilkinson’s car park and to provide additional retail space.
But some councillors questioned whether the building would be a sound investment.
Coun Eddie Collett said: “We are told this would be a good move, but history tells me it doesn’t always work out that way, and that we will buy it and it turns out it has concrete cancer or the roof needs fixing.”
Coun Ivan Taylor added: “There must be a question mark about the condition of that building because of the time it was built.
“There must be a process in place to ensure we know what we are buying.”
But Mr Baker said surveys from three years ago had shown the structure of the building to be sound.
The executive agreed to proceed towards a possible purchase of the site by appointing an agent and undertaking the necessary surveys to evaluate the proposed deal.
Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said: “In terms of key sites like this which potentially has huge impact on the rest of the Central Business District, where it is prudent to do so, it is vital to make this sort of investment, particularly given all we believe we can get from it.”