The old Hawke's Bay Today premises, empty for several years in the Hastings CBD, could be the site of a new development.

Developer Jude Minor said he's doing "background work" on the Karamu Rd North buildings in preparation for a potential sale but would give no further details.

"In real estate, until it is all done and dusted, we don't care to talk about it too much," he said.

No "for sale" signs adorn the Overton Holdings-owned property, which has had a controversial history.

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In 2007 Overton Holdings purchased the building from APN New Zealand - now called NZME - with Hawke's Bay Today as tenant for eight years.

The tenancy proceeded without incident until 2011 when Hastings District Council told Overton the building needed an assessment for earthquake resilience.

Because all four of the Karamu Rd buildings were below 33 per cent of the new building standard they were designated earthquake-prone.

An NZME evaluation assessed the buildings at 8 per cent of the new building standard and Overton was asked to undertake remediation/strengthening.

Overton refused and said NZME had misrepresented the property as fit for service when it was sold four years earlier.

For the safety of staff NZME vacated the property in two stages: the print operation left in 2012 and the publishing arm in 2014.

With the lease forbidding NZME to sublease, NZME continued paying rent until October 2015.

Overton took NZME to court, alleging misrepresentation of the building, but the court ruled in favour of NZME.

Overton took the case to the Court of Appeal which said Overton suffered no loss because the lease terms were fulfilled.

The court upheld the principal of caveat emptor, saying there was no misrepresentation of the building's structural integrity when Overton director Herman Rockefeller made the $4 million purchase in 2007.

In 2010 Mr Rockefeller was killed and his body dismembered and burned in Australia after he angered his attackers by turning up to a swingers' party without a partner.

Overton is now owned by Mr Rockefeller's wife.