'Spaceship' house fails to fly

02:08, May 23 2014
spaceship house
AWAITING LIFT-OFF: The spaceship house in Fifeshire Crescent did not attract any bids.

The novel "spaceship" house in Fifeshire Crescent failed to attract any bidders at a packed auction at Bayleys in Nelson yesterday. yesterday, but a prime waterfront property sold for $100,000 and will be turned into a lime orchard, with the fruit used to produce liqueurs.

The slip-damaged site with a rateable value of $48,000 and which included a damaged seaside bungalow, was bought by neighbouring property owners Wendy and Patrick Meffan.

Wendy Meffan said after 35 years as a nurse, it was time to do something new and reinvent herself in the horticulture sector, with the aim of producing specialist liqueurs from the limes.

"I've never felt so inspired," she said of the new venture.

The 827-square-metre site in Rocks Rd was one of three auctioned yesterday, including a house in Moncrieff Ave and the "spaceship" house. Neither attracted bidders and were passed in at levels below their rateable value.

A crowd of about 50 crammed into the auction site in Trafalgar St, with most pressed toward the back of the room in case they scratched their nose and ended up the owner of a spaceship.

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Auctioneer Jeremy Matthews assured the crowd that only bids made clear by a hand raised would be considered.

"I won't be responding to itching noses or scratching ears," he said before the auction began.

Bidding opened first at $450,000 on a house in Moncrieff Ave, with the Auckland vendor listening in by phone.

"We often have vendors in the UK and a buyer in Australia on a deal going down in Nelson," Matthews explained.

Seconds after bidding was opened the silence was "just like a church" as he tried to get some traction on the auction. The property was passed in at $530,000, "well below" rateable value.

Negotiations began with conditional buyers soon after, Matthews said later yesterday.

Bidding opened at $450,000 for the spaceship home and site in Fifeshire Crescent, with a rateable value of $610,000 - although the land value makes up $600,000 of that.

The Scandinavian-designed Futuro House fibreglass spaceship is designed to be dismantled and "carried away in a box", which is possibly the next step after the property attracted no bids and was passed in yesterday at $595,000.

Matthews said the pod alone would now be auctioned at 4pm tomorrow.

"I was expecting more bidders, but I'm not really surprised at yesterday's outcome - it ran true to form in that people tended to hold back, but I'm dealing with conditional buyers for both properties now.

"Auctions are usually three-act plays and what we saw yesterday was act 2."

Matthews said for every property sold under the hammer, at least five others passed in at auction sold within three to five days after. He said between 15 and 20 people were interested in the spaceship pod on its own, including someone who would "make it even more famous". He declined to say who, but removal of the pod would free up the site to be sold separately.

The Rocks Rd property bought by the Meffans was damaged in the 2011 rainstorm and landslides. The vendor had been paid out and wanted to sell the section opposite Tahunanui Beach, with its derelict house which had been pushed off its foundations in the landslide.

Matthews said he did not know what it might have cost to remediate the land if someone had wanted to re-build there. He was not aware of any costings done, but it appeared as if several "substantial" retaining walls would have been needed.

The Meffans said the tumble-down garage in front did not belong to the site, but was on road reserve.

Wendy Meffan said she planned to plant the first limes later this year, as soon as the house was removed. She would be planting the yellow-skinned variety, mainly for the juice they yielded.

"I've always been into food and I love to cook. We are the fruit basket of New Zealand, and we plan to turn the site into one big garden."

She said it would be about four years before the citrus grove would start to produce limes.

The Nelson Mail