Auckland Council plans to sell a half-hectare of land and its iconic, historic 18-level Civic Administration Building for just $3 million in a deal which has left some councillors aghast.
Mayor Phil Goff has issued a statement today, revealing the previously-secret sale price on the controversial deal which appears to have become unconditional with the $3m agreed to be paid only once the CAB has a makeover into apartments.
The $3m is for the ex-council headquarters facing Aotea Square and a 5000sqm plot of land at the heart of the civic quarter surrounding the office tower, the Aotea Centre and Mayoral Dr.
"The agreement that settled this week between Civic Lane and Auckland Council for $3m reflects the exceptional costs of asbestos removal and heritage restoration requirements," the council statement said.
Mike Lee, a councillor, said the sale "sounds like a bad joke - but it is nothing short of scandalous. The people of Auckland are effectively being robbed by the Super City which is meant to represent their interests."
The CAB should be used for what it was designed for, as council offices, he stressed.
"I believe the asbestos story is fake and a pretext to justify the move to the ASB Bank HQ, the upgrade of which is still haemorrhaging money. Auckland deserves better than this," Lee said this afternoon.
Clive Fuhr of Panuku Development Auckland said the deal had settled on Wednesday this week.
Asked what that meant and how much money had been paid, he said it was not a 10 per cent deposit of $300,000 but instead a sum of "less than $100,000".
The balance is due once the deal with developer John Love is finished and the apartments are completed, he indicated.
Lee said the building had been empty for half a decade and demanded a full investigation into why it remains unused after it was sold for a $300m development project which has never eventuated.
"I opposed the sale - more like giveaway - of the CAB, though councillors were never given a clear-cut opportunity to make a decision," Lee said last week, criticising the sale process announced in 2016 but which he said was not transparent.
Christine Fletcher, another councillor, has also criticised the deal, saying she supports Lee. She said the CAB "has been empty for about five years and it's shameful, an outrage, unthinkable that this has happened".
"This was the last straw, which resulted in me supporting John Tamihere," she said of the rival mayoral candidate.
Fuhr today defended the price: "The sale comes with obligations we have in place to refurbish the building."
Fuhr predicted work on the building would start "within a month".
A contract has been let to Naylor Love and the developer is understood to have financial support from ANZ and Australia's Qualitas, a financier and investment manager.