THE Millicent and District Community Club debt to Wattle Range Council has been cleared after 23 years.
Geelong retailer John Boom has purchased the freehold of the Davenport Street property for a yet to be disclosed sum and settlement is scheduled for April 20.
The Community Club was indebted to ratepayers in the closing months of the Millicent District Council when it was granted a secured loan of $250,000.
The debt transferred to the newly-formed Wattle Range Council in mid-1997 and has remained well into the six figures ever since.
It has remained well past $200,000, with council taking on certain administrative costs since the Community Club ceased trading over 18 months ago.
The exact amount outstanding has not been provided to this newspaper.
Council chief executive Ben Gower said the organisation was the Community Club’s major creditor.
Due to this status, Mr Gower said he had been approached by the Community Club liquidator David Kidman on March 17 with news of the offer for the premises by Mr Boom.
“I told him that council was not set to meet,” Mr Gower said.
“He said the offer from Mr Boom would mean Wattle Range Council would be paid out in full and so I said the council would have no objections to the sale.”
With council setting aside up to $3.6m for a new main office, the Community Club site had come under active consideration by Mr Gower and the elected members.
Mr Gower commissioned architectural plans for the site, with options of either refurbishment or demolition and re-building.
He said the architectural plans and pricing were about to be presented to council.
“They will provide a pricing benchmark and a good reference point for the main office discussions,” Mr Gower said.
“We had a walkthrough of the Community Club premises with electricians and plumbers and I expect the architects would have found the demolition and re-building option to be cheaper than a refurbishment.”
Meanwhile, Millicent Business Community Association chairman Lee Morgan welcomed the sale of the Community Club building.
“This is brilliant news,” Mr Morgan said.
“It demonstrates that once we come out the other side of this pandemic crisis the economic outlook will again be positive.”
In the meantime, Mr Boom and his family are preparing to open the club for use as a shop to be called Bargain Market.
It will fill the former front lounge area and one time rear dining area.
He said his past retail businesses had a value-for-market ethos and a breadth of lines.
“You might be able to buy a $10,000 diamond ring here along with jewellery costing just 50 cents,” he said.