A bowling club in the heart of the upmarket Auckland suburb of Remuera has been sold for $8.1 million to an investment company which wants to build a retirement village.
Rawhiti Bowling club put its greens on the market after 100 years, because of dwindling membership.
Club president Rod College announced the sale by tender in an email to members.
He says the proceeds of the "outstanding" sale will go to support the sport of bowls in Auckland.
The club's 35 playing members have relocated to other clubs, mostly to Glendowie.
But the island of green in a neighbourhood of $2 million-plus homes still has a bevy of diehard defenders.
Bayleys Remuera salesman David Rainbow, who negotiated the sale, said the 5954sq m property had attracted unprecedented interest, with 23 tenders received.\
"A lot offered up to that level but the club chose this one because it was a nice clean deal."
The property had been expected to fetch more than $5 million, with the median value of residential property in Remuera being $1.36 million.
The north-facing corner block of Rangitoto Ave, Rakau St and Ara St has council resource consent for up to nine residential lots.
It was bought by New Zealand investment company BeGroup Ltd which has plans to develop a retirement village.
One of the company's directors and its chief executive, Guy Eady, has served on the boards of healthcare services provider Oceania Group, aged care provider Metlifecare, the Aged Care Association and the Retirement Villages Association.
Mr Eady said he grew up 100m away from the bowling club and wanted to develop high-quality dwellings just for retirees.
"I have a passion for doing something which will be a real addition to the neighbourhood."
He said not enough work had been done at this stage to say the number of dwellings that could be created in a retirement village on the property but it would be a development in the order of $20 million to $30 million.
A resource consent would have to be sought for a retirement village.
Remuera resident and Orakei Local Board member Troy Churton said he had tried to get council backing to keep the land for recreation.
Such a high sale price suggested a strategic intention for the future of land that would not comply with the existing land use controls.
He said this was borne out by the club lodging submissions to the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan seeking a zone which allowed a higher density of housing than the nine sites ranging from 504sq m to 1009sq m, approved by the council two and half years ago.
He said a "good lobby of locals" filed submissions against the club's submissions.
However, Mr College said the club made submissions because the proposed plan did not fit the present zone and local residents had asked for it to be returned to open space in the plan.
"It was only to protect our position - not to get more for the property."