Auckland's historic Greys Ave flats will be refurbished, but the carpark behind them may be sold off for commercial development.

A request for expressions of interest issued by Housing NZ yesterday has allayed tenant fears that the heritage-listed flats themselves might be sold for mixed public and private housing as in other state housing blocks around Auckland.

It says 12 ground-floor bedsits will be removed, but the rest of the upper building in the street will be kept in "100 per cent Housing NZ ownership". An adjoining building lower down the street was upgraded five years ago and will also stay in state housing.

But HNZ says "residual land" behind the two housing blocks, now used as a carpark, "will require a variety of creative development options for integrating private residential and possible commercial space".


The state agency is looking to sell the surplus land and lease back about 400sq m for offices. Regional manager Neil Adams declined to comment on whether these might be relocated from the agency's current regional office in Greenlane, which also houses chief executive Glen Sowry and some other head office functions.

"It is important to understand no final decisions have been made and the expression of interest is to look at possible options only, like for example options for the ground floor, options for the laundry area, options for commercial space, etc," Mr Adams said.

The main upper building, built in 1957, has 87 units including the 12 ground-floor bedsits and 75 "maisonettes" each spanning two floors with balconies on one floor. The proposal specifies keeping the 75 maisonettes and adding 13 new one-bedroom units replacing a laundry on the roof.

Auckland-based Labour MP Jacinda Ardern said the refurbishment was "desperately needed".

"It is the worst Housing NZ housing I have seen. It is absolutely dire."