The Laura Fergusson Trust property in Auckland is being sold, according to the entity which runs the rehabilitation facility that shut last year.
In what could be this year's most controversial sale, a newsletter out this month, signed by all seven members of the Laura Fergusson Trust Incorporated in Auckland, says the property is for sale in a "controlled and refined manner".
But a web search reveals no obvious listing for 224-226 Great South Rd and one real estate boss raised issues about properties sold without widespread advertising.
Despite widespread criticism of last year's closure and the board's actions, the newsletter said the sale was the only way forward for the entity.
"As we indicated at the 2019 and 2020 annual general meetings, Laura Fergusson Trust Auckland's future activities rely upon a sale of its only significant asset - the property at 224-226 Great South Rd," the newsletter says.
"The sale process is highly confidential, as is standard market practice, which necessarily limits what Laura Fergusson Trust Auckland can legally say about it at this time," the board said.
Inquiries made to board chairman Chris O'Brien in the last day have so far gone unanswered.
The trust operated from the Great South Rd property until March last year when it shut, blaming financial difficulties. The centre - which provided rehab services and respite care - had been set to close in August but that was brought forward by the first Covid-19 lockdown.
Auckland Council records show 224 Great South Rd has a land area of 9235sq m - nearly 1ha. The site is used as "special accommodation" and valued at $22m for 2020/21 rating purposes, records show.
The land has a built floor area of 2079sq m on it, is zoned residential for terrace and apartment buildings and has 41 off-street car parks.
Annual rates are $46,453.43.
In its June newsletter, the board rejected the idea that the valuable property's sale was not transparent.
"One false rumour circulating at present is that the property is being sold off-market. That is not correct. The property is being represented in a controlled and refined manner,
consistent with advice received by the board from an independent expert," the newsletter said.
In April, the Herald reported a petition has been launched to save a "vital" Auckland disability facility closed last year under a cloud of secrecy, leaving residents, former patients and donors outraged.
Advocates have accused the trust of acting in poor faith deciding to close without speaking publicly about its reasons, despite taking in millions of dollars in public donations over decades.
The trust has refused to comment to the Herald, but a medical expert who has provided them advice said the core issue was a funding imbalance, with donations declining and Government contracts remaining static while healthcare costs rose dramatically.
The June newsletter said: "Once the sale process is complete, LFT Auckland will be in a position to continue the significant, long-lasting and visionary contribution to the disabled community foreseen by its founders. So the board has divided itself into two working subcommittees" a future activities committee to assess areas where it can work and an investment/finance committee to protect assets and help disabled people.
Kiri Barfoot, a Barfoot & Thompson director, said properties should be sold so the most people knew about the sale. That gave the best outcome.
Vendors might not maximise prices if they sold using other methods "and may even see the buyer quickly sell for more money. Some owners still insist on doing this. They don't want the hassle of open homes, etc. But it is a huge risk with more negative implications than positive. So I would not recommend it. Even a registered valuation could be way below what buyers might intend paying if the property was widely advertised", Barfoot said.
Dame Rosie Horton chaired the Laura Fergusson Trust Women's Committee in the mid-1980s and was also a trustee. She said last year: "I am devastated by what is happening at the Laura Fergusson Trust."
Others including Victoria Carter and Denis Lane have also spoken out, demanding to know why the centre had to shut.
Carter said today: "It's tragic that this vital facility built with fundraising during 50 years might be sold so quietly. The disabled community, their families and original founders have been ignored and forgotten in this board's process. Too many people have had their home taken away, been relocated to rest homes, lost respite care and had their lives affected forever.
"How can these seven men and women think they have the mandate to dismantle this critical infrastructure for the disabled, claim it's not needed and the funding isn't there? We should all be very concerned, especially when so many people have been rejected for membership. Its closure has been a huge loss to the disabled community and many more who used the gym, hydrotherapy pool and other facilities," Carter said.
Sophie Malthus, a quadriplegic said today: "If sold, there is nowhere for someone like me who has a life-changing accident."
Trust board members are chairman Chris O'Brien, deputy chairman Simon Barclay, John Burton, Richard Glenn, Rob Small, Shelley Hiha, John Magness, Allan Hooker and Heather McLeish.