Coun­cil HQ may be sold

Central Leader - - YOUR PLACE, YOUR PAPER - MARIA SLADE

Auck­land’s po­lit­i­cal lead­ers are be­ing told to con­sider sell­ing the city’s multi-mil­lion dol­lar coun­cil head­quar­ters and put the money to bet­ter use.

Of­fi­cials asked coun­cil­lors on Thurs­day for the go-ahead to in­ves­ti­gate putting their down­town Auck­land of­fice build­ing and some nearby of­fices on the mar­ket.

If the pro­posal went ahead the coun­cil would then lease the space back.

The newly merged Auck­land Coun­cil bought the 29-storey tower at 135 Al­bert St for $104 mil­lion in 2012, but it’s since emerged the build­ing needs an es­ti­mated $27m in re­pair work.

Its 2014 cap­i­tal value was $134m. How­ever, it’s ex­pected the prop­erty would be worth much more now, with the coun­cil re­cently re­ceiv­ing an of­fer of $250m.

Coun­cil of­fi­cials say it may be bet­ter to sell 135 Al­bert St and the build­ing at 35 Gra­ham St, and spend the money on im­prove­ments to in­fra­struc­ture such as stormwa­ter and trans­port.

Mayor Len Brown is a fan of sell­ing and has com­mented that 135 Al­bert St could fetch as much as $300m.

‘‘If it’s a quar­ter of a bil­lion dol­lars of fund­ing sit­ting there and we would re­ceive as good a ben­e­fit if not bet­ter from just be­ing long-term ten­ants, then it would use­fully be best off our bal­ance sheet,’’ he said last month.

The 2014 cap­i­tal value of Gra­ham St was $32.5m.

While it is usual for or­gan­i­sa­tions to own spe­cialised prop­er­ties – such as Auck­land Coun­cil owns the Town Hall – it is not as com­mon for them to own their cor­po­rate of­fices, an of­fi­cials’ re­port to Thurs­day’s Fi­nance and Per­for­mance Com­mit­tee says.

If the coun­cil holds on to the of­fice build­ings it will face on­go­ing main­te­nance and re­pair costs, whereas if it sells it could re­duce some of its debt, the re­port says. The gran­ite cladding on the 25-year-old Al­bert St build­ing now needs re­plac­ing. Fi­nal fig­ures are not in but early es­ti­mates are that the work could cost $27m.

Act­ing group chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Kevin Ram­say said the re­pairs would con­tinue re­gard­less of any po­ten­tial sale, and a new owner may take the work over.

PHOTO: PETER MEECHAM

The build­ing on the cor­ner of Al­bert and Welles­ley Streets which houses the Auck­land Coun­cil of­fices is up for sale.

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