Tower's troubles targeted

New body corporate chair to tackle issues at Metropolis with wide-ranging cost savings.

Extensive operational and remediation cost savings are planned for Auckland's  Metropolis block. Photo / Doug Sherring
Extensive operational and remediation cost savings are planned for Auckland's Metropolis block. Photo / Doug Sherring

Towering rows at Auckland's 40-level Metropolis block appear about to be resolved as a new owners' representative beds in big changes.

Tony Howard, appointed body corporate chairman a few weeks ago after trouble at the block in Auckland's CBD, says he has plans for extensive operational and remediation cost savings.

But he is looking for help and on Thursday apartment owners will gather in a function area for an extraordinary general meeting to elect two new representatives to the committee whose members are Howard, property investor Mira Oh, Ray White real estate agent Alexander Babukhin, Julia Best and Peter Malin.

In May, dirty laundry aired from the tower ranged from the legality of two Burmese cats' residency in a ground-floor letting office to the multimillion-dollar running fees that residents must pay that have sparked resentments and at one point a High Court challenge was due to be mounted against the renewal of the building management agreement until 2018.

Howard said things were looking up and $350,000 to $450,000 could be saved annually on operating Metropolis. A fulltime general manager, facilities manager and others might be employed.

But one resident said the situation had lurched from bad to worse.

"Tony Howard's so-called Concerned Residents Committee is totally dysfunctional and racked with personality conflicts. There is supposed to be eight members of the body corporate committee but now it's basically being run down," the apartment owner said.

"We believe they are now in panic mode, having realised they don't have the ability to unravel the mess they have created."

But Howard said big cost savings could be achieved in fixing a weathertightness issue on levels eight and nine. Changes to that job, due to go out for tender this summer, had got the project value down to $2 million but Howard said that might be substantially reduced.

Level nine was originally projected to cost $1 million but a quote for only $280,000 had been received in 2009, Howard said. "So the remedials will be altered. The owners will be delighted. We've achieved a lot," he said.

But the new committee's progress has not all been all plain sailing.

Howard said he had threatened verbally to resign at one point in what he described as "a tactical move" in an attempt to resolve an issue.

However, he said he never really intended to resign and written notice was required, which he never submitted.

Howard said the changes to the tower's management and operations were planned after extensive examinations of paperwork and years of body corporate committee meetings. "We've gone through all the minutes of the last seven years to get the full picture of mistakes that have been made.

"Also, you get an overview of just where the place should be going and I have that very, very clear in my mind," he said.

- NZ Herald

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