Going, going, gone – buyer sought for Service Centre

The For Sale sign has gone up on Auckland Council’s Orewa Service Centre but for now, ratepayers can still access local services there.

It is two years since Council made the decision to sell its property at 50 Centreway Road. Last week, the 1.9ha site, which is zoned Mixed Use and is valued at nearly $29 million, was put on the market.
Councillor John Watson calls it “a fire sale”.

“It amounts to yet another fire sale of a valuable council-owned asset,” Cr Watson says. “It is short sighted to attach little value to assets built up over generations of ratepayer investment.”

He says it also goes against the wishes of a rapidly expanding community.

“Orewa Service Centre could, and should, have been made to work for the wider region, for it was a purpose-built administration building in an ideal location.”

In 2018, a majority of councillors voted to sell the site, and six others, despite strong local board opposition. Both Albany Ward councillors, John Watson and Wayne Walker, voted against the sale.

The sale proposal includes an offer to any potential purchaser that Council can lease the site back as a tenant, meaning services to ratepayers will remain located there. This would be until around 2022/23 when Council services are to be amalgamated at a North/West hub that is yet to be built in Albany.

However, even when this happens the community has a guarantee that services such as paying rates and dog registration fees will remain local.

In 2018, after the decision to sell the site had been made, Mayor Phil Goff gave a guarantee that the loss of local services would not occur, (HM June 1, 2018). He said that an alternative location in Orewa would be found for the customer service centre and local board meeting rooms before Council vacates 50 Centreway Road.

Last week, a Mayoral office spokesperson told Hibiscus Matters that this is still the case.

“Back-office functions will move, but face-to-face service provision will remain, operating out of a new, better and more appropriate building,” the spokesperson says. “Council is beginning work to investigate the best location in Orewa for the new centre and is looking ideally to co-locate it with other community services such as libraries, to create a ‘one-stop-shop’ that is easier for the community to access.”

Hibiscus & Bays Local Board member Julia Parfitt, who was among the members who made a presentation in opposition to the sale in 2018, says there was strong feedback from the community against the proposal – but that if a sale did go ahead, it should be in order to provide a public service, such as a hospital.

Council’s property arm, Panuku Development, appointed Colliers International to act as agents for the sale. Colliers hopes for good interest from developers, investors and occupiers. The sale is by tender, closing March 19.

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