Housing NZ is selling off a multi-million dollar chunk of Government-owned land in Auckland as it seeks to transform a block that has been vacant for a long time into modern three-storey townhouses.
The land at 33 Asquith Ave in Mt Albert has a council valuation of $12.75m but has been mired in controversy after lying dormant for about five years.
Housing NZ had planned to replace 20 old state houses, previously occupying the 1751sq m site, with a new development of 40 houses, made up of 20 state homes and 20 for sale on the open market.
The agency recently completed civil works for the site with the intention of selling the land earmarked for private homes to a single developer as a "super lot".
But now it has changed tack by giving buyers the chance to either buy the land in total or make offers on individual sections or groups of sections.
Housing NZ will continue to oversee the construction of the state houses.
Housing New Zealand asset development general manager Patrick Dougherty said the change of tack was designed "to free up development-ready land for market and affordable housing".
It would also "enable Housing New Zealand to build more state houses in other high-demand parts of Auckland", he said.
The sale comes as local residents have frequently criticised Housing NZ for the look and scale of the development as well as its slow pace of development at a time when there is a housing shortage across Auckland.
But Dougherty said development plans for the site had "been well signalled, including with community leaders and neighbours".
He also said the land on offer was a prime piece of real estate, just seven kilometres from the CBD and close to schools, shops, parks and good public transport links.
It was 500m from Mt Albert Grammar School and an aquatic centre, while St Luke's Mall was just over 1km away.
The land would not be used to build KiwiBuild homes but did come with resource consents to build four-bedroom townhouses, Dougherty said.
Bayleys Mt Albert real estate salesperson Jock Kooger said it was "extremely rare" for a vacant land parcel of this size to come up for sale so close to the central city "in a suburb renowned for its character bungalows".
He said that because buyers had the chance to buy the land in whole or in sections, it was impossible to put a set value on the land.
This "is why the blocks are being marketed for sale through a tender process, so the vendor can assess all options to maximise the asset's value", he said.