Work on the fenced-off Bella Vista Homes properties at The Lakes in Tauranga will begin in the coming weeks, with the upper levels of some of the houses likely to be removed, and the block foundations demolished.
The Bay of Plenty Times has been trying to get answers about the future of the houses from the Tauranga City Council since Friday last week, amid growing speculation on social media.
Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless, via a council statement on Tuesday, confirmed that legal teams and experts had visited the site last week and that any demolition was likely to be six weeks away.
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"We believe the properties on Aneta Way may be able to be salvaged and repaired. The upper levels of some of the other homes are likely to be removed, with only the block foundations being demolished."
Brownless said that at a meeting on December 19, the council resolved to "salvage, repair, remove or demolish Bella Vista homes".
"The most appropriate course of action will be determined for each home. In general, we are aiming to salvage what is possible before selling the homes and/or land."
He said before any demolition took place, there would be further opportunity for technical investigation and viewing for legal purposes.
Brownless said each property was likely to be treated slightly differently depending on its location, its completeness and "its state of disrepair".
"Staff are investigating options for the remediation of the land to determine which course of action is in the best interests the city and of ratepayers, and it is likely that the land will be sold."
Andre Stewart, one of the Bella Vista homeowners, said on Tuesday that he and his family had moved on, but still hoped the right thing would be done in regards to Tauranga ratepayers and the public.
Meanwhile, a site office has been erected on Lakes Boulevard behind the construction fences that have been up for months, and signs have been put up for Shane Moore Services, "demolition specialists and recycled building products".
A post on the Facebook page of Shane Moore Services on Monday afternoon said: "First day on the job at Bella Vista, Tauranga. Setting up the site office."
It was revealed in December that the Tauranga City Council had spent $14 million buying the 21 Bella Vista houses at The Lakes.
This was offset by an insurance payment of $10.5 million, leaving a difference of $3.5 million.
As of September 18 last year, the council had also racked up costs of $2.8 million dealing with the Bella Vista fallout, including building, geotechnical and structural assessments, solution assessment, legal advice, communications, security, investigations and homeowner support.
Total cost of buyout: $14,063,353.80
Insurance payout: $10,550,000
Remaining cost to ratepayers: $3,513,353.80
Bella Vista timeline
• Nov 30, 2017: Bella Vista Homes went into voluntary liquidation, leaving behind unfinished houses and millions of dollars in outstanding debts to creditors.
• Mar 9, 2018: Tauranga City Council ordered the emergency evacuation of 21 Bella Vista houses at The Lakes as a cyclone approached.
• Jun 6, 2018: Tauranga councillors voted in principle to buy the 21 homes after an independent report into what happened found council failures.
• Jul 26, 2018: The council made an offer to the homeowners, which was rejected.
• Aug 17, 2018: The council filed charges in court under the Building Act against parties involved in the failed development.
• Sep 3, 2018: MBIE announced an investigation into the council's handling of the matter.
• Oct 10, 2018: The council announced an internal investigation.
• Nov 1, 2018: The council settled with homeowners.
• Dec 19, 2018: The council resolved to "salvage, repair, remove or demolish Bella Vista homes".