Let time be the de­cider

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

When the city coun­cil bought a prime piece of Plim­mer­ton real es­tate last year, the re­ac­tion from ratepay­ers – or at least the noisy ones – was pretty caus­tic. It will be in­ter­est­ing to see if there’s a sim­i­lar level of angst lev­elled at PCC’S cur­rent mil­lion-dol­lar-plus of­fer for 1.7 acres of Ti­tahi Bay beach­front.

We re­ceived a lot of cor­re­spon­dence af­ter the Plim­mer­ton deal – $1.125m for 742sqm on Steyne Ave – from folks who felt the coun­cil had no busi­ness buy­ing up prime real es­tate for a yet-to-be­re­alised pur­pose. Yet, when the coun­cil shelled out $850,000 later that year for three sites in Whitby there was lit­tle more than a rip­ple.

Per­haps a lot of the angst lev­elled at the Steyne Ave pur­chase stemmed from Euon Mur­rell be­ing the es­tate agent – though the north­ern ward coun­cil­lor played no part in the coun­cil’s decision to ten­der an of­fer – and the sug­ges­tion the coun­cil over­paid in a flat mar­ket.

Even for those of us who be­lieve the role of a city coun­cil is more than just pro­vid­ing core ser­vices – vi­sion be­ing as in­te­gral a func­tion – buy­ing up beach­front prop­er­ties seems a touch ex­trav­a­gant on the heels of a draft long-term plan that pro­poses cuts to li­brary ser­vices and rub­bish bins.

Of course, strate­gic land pur­chases are in the draft plan – it’s just not pos­si­ble for the com­mu­nity to weigh in on spe­cific trans­ac­tions. As much as $25.7 mil­lion is es­ti­mated to be re­quired in the next 10 years, with land pur­chases funded by loans.

On the Ti­tahi Bay deal, deputy mayor Liz Kelly ac­cepts some peo­ple will be ‘‘ner­vous’’ about the money in­volved, but she says it is an ex­cit­ing, rare op­por­tu­nity that will ben­e­fit fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

And that’s the tricky thing about strate­gic land pur­chases – the ben­e­fits seem a long way off while the next rates bill is just around the corner. And who’s to say what guise the lo­cal – or not so lo­cal – au­thor­ity will take in 10 years, or even five years, and how its in­ten­tions for these as­sets may dif­fer from the in­cum­bent coun­cil? Like bulls to red rags, some crit­ics of the lat­est pur­chase will be drawn to the mayor’s for­mer em­ploy­ment with prop­erty agent Col­liers. We will re­serve our anx­i­ety for when it comes time to re­alise the site’s po­ten­tial – or not.

The Aotea sub­di­vi­sion isn’t what many of us had hoped for, both in key ob­jec­tives fall­ing short – RIP busi­ness park, af­ford­able hous­ing – and the price PCC got for it. How­ever, you could ar­gue the most im­por­tant thing was that the coun­cil bought the two Aotea Block parcels to be­gin with, a con­tro­ver­sial move at the time, but few would fault the logic now.

Matthew Dal­las, Ed­i­tor

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