new auckland

Auckland Council’s $173m asset sale

Seven buildings and sites with a combined valuation of $173 million are likely to be sold by the Auckland Council as part of a plan to free up money and re-house staff.

The sites include the Bledisloe Carpark next to the Aotea Centre on Mayoral Drive, (with a 2017 capital valuation of $28m), the council service centre at Graham St off Victoria St ($35m) and major council buildings at Henderson ($58.8m), Manukau ($12.3 million), two at Orewa ($28.8m), Papakura ($3.8m) and Pukekohe ($7.2m).

The "Corporate Acommodation Disposal" plan will be put to the Council's finance and performance committee next week.

A paper from officials says: "We have major capex (capital expenditure) constraints and are anticipating a significant LTP (long term plan) shortfall with the current portfolio."  It says acting now could save money and reduce the risk of operating problems at the buildings - as well as "refresh local board spaces, customer service centres and library and leisure centre back-of-house spaces".

The committee chairman, Councillor Ross Clow said: This proposal is about making the Council more efficient, more effective and more in touch with our community."

While Orewa and Pukekohe's sales would mean council services would shift, no customer service centres would be closed.

The asset sales accentuate an ongoing sell-off of surplus parcels of land across the region. The Council's development organisation Panuku Auckland, is charged with selling a further $100m of such land by June this year. At the same meeting next week six properties, including vacant sites, are scheduled to be disposed of in Otara, Avondale, Papatoetoe, and Mt Eden.

Councillors are sensitive to public feeling over selling 'strategic' assets such as the wholly owned Ports of Auckland Ltd or the council shareholding in Auckland Airport.

But as the city's development needs run up against a ceiling on how much the Council can borrow without a downgrade from credit rating agencies, they are looking under every rock for surplus assets that have not raised public concerns in the past.

Auckland Council aims to move to three hubs - the Bledisloe building in the CBD, a venue at Albany or Westgate and its Manukau Civic centre - as well as its city headquarters in Albert St, named  Auckland House. The proceeds of selling its corporate premises across much of the region would be reinvested in its hub and spokes plan of facilities for serving ratepayers.

The report to the committee says the Bledisloe Carpark land could be subject to a move from the Crown to secure it for possible negotiations with iwi under Treaty of Waitangi agreements. The Henderson buildings also included a Japanese Garden gifted by the former Waitakere council's sister city, Kakogawa 21 years ago and this area would have to be retained and vested in the Council.

An existing council building in Takapuna was tied to a $6m a year lease until 2021, but the new north-west centre would be identified in the meantime.

The biggest parcel of land is at Orewa, with 19,000 square metres, ahead of Henderson (16,000) and Pukekohe (13,000). Various local boards have provided advice on the plan, with the Hibiscus Coast board suggesting an approach should be made to the Waitemata District Health Board to see if it wants to buy the Orewa site.

Councillor Clow said: “Any local board office or customer service centre that could be affected by the sale of any of these buildings will be relocated within the area, in consultation with the relevant local board.” 

 “Alongside this, we expect to reduce our operational costs of running buildings we no longer occupy as we move to more modern and efficient workplaces.”

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