A large Brookfield property with views to Mauao is being investigated by the Tauranga City Council for a possible development while debate rages about why the house was empty.
The estimated 2000sq m property behind the Brookfield pensioner village featured a 1930s character bungalow which neighbours say had been empty for about 12 months.
Questions about why the house had been untenanted for so long while people were homeless has led the council to disclose it was investigating how much it would cost to bring the house up to standard.
The investigation was part of a wider inquiry into whether the land could be put to better use. "That's something we are working through with interested parties," the council's property team leader Tony Bodger told the Bay of Plenty Times.
"We are investigating the possible long-term future uses of the land."
Mr Bodger said the uses would need to ensure that the operation of the Brookfield Village was not compromised.
"We are not in a position to comment further at this point."
The house was only accessible through the village and had been rented until about a year ago.
A prime mover in questioning why the council appeared to be moving slowly in getting another tenant was nearby resident Rusty Kane.
"It is not good enough to let a house sit empty. It should have been done up and re-tenanted. We can't afford to have places sitting empty."
Mayoral candidate Murray Guy inspected the outside of the property and said even in a substandard state it was better than living in a garage or car. Mr Bodger said the 100sq m house was not part of the elder housing portfolio and was in a poor state of repair internally.
The investigation included making sure the house's insulation met current health and safety requirements, checking for unstable asbestos, ensuring electrical work and plumbing was safe and up to standard and replacing the hot water cylinder.
"We need to consider whether this land could be put to better use."
It was the council's only untenanted residential property. Eleven of its elder housing units had recently been vacated and the council was in the process of refurbishing 10 of the units. The last unit had a structural issue.