Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Designer wants rates back

World owner says council got five years of high rates before devaluing her building

Denise L'Estrange-Corbet asked the council to buy 8 Pitt St but was rebuffed. Photo / Richard Robinson
Denise L'Estrange-Corbet asked the council to buy 8 Pitt St but was rebuffed. Photo / Richard Robinson

Designer Denise L'Estrange-Corbet is fighting Auckland Council to get back thousands of dollars paid in rates after a devaluation of the head office building for her label World.

Ms L'Estrange-Corbet said the council had set a new capital value on her 1858 church building after making it a Category A heritage building in 2011. The new valuation was $880,000 compared with the previous CV of $1,570,000.

"They have the audacity to tell me it's less than I paid for it eight years ago," she said. "They have been overcharging me and leading me to believe my CV was higher for five years. I want my five years back, with interest, because I think that would be fair when they have been holding money they should not have charged me."

Between July 2008 and July 2011, the council charged rates on a valuation of $1.29 million. Ms L'Estrange-Corbet said she paid rates of $16,031 in the 2012-13 rating period alone.

An Auckland Council spokesman said it was accepted that Ms L'Estrange-Corbet was overcharged rates for the 2012-13 rating year. She would be refunded $3700 for that period of overpayment.

The designer bought the central Pitt St building for $875,000 with Francis Hooper in 2005.

"It has a category A heritage rating - the highest there is but has a limit on how you can change it," she said.

She found that restriction put off buyers when in April she put the building up for sale.

"I got an offer last week for $700,000. If Category A was not imposed by the council, it would be well worth $1.57 million plus ... ."

Ms L'Estrange-Corbet said she had to bring the brick building up to earthquake compliance at her own cost. An alternative, an approach to the council to buy the property from its heritage acquisition fund, was rebuffed.

A spokesman for Mayor Len Brown said he would meet Ms L'Estrange-Corbet next week to discuss her concerns.

John Church, general manager for the commercial and industrial division of Bayley's, said the revaluation of property values with earthquake compliance issues had created a totally new dynamic for the property sector over the past 18 months.

"Owners of buildings below the 68 per cent compliance rating are faced with the decision of whether to sell their asset at a value probably lower than it was in 2011, or invest in having the necessary engineering and strengthening undertaken to make their premises compliant."

- NZ Herald

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