RSA building could sell for $1

ANGELA CUMING
Last updated 05:00 18/08/2012

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Cambridge may lose one of its oldest landmarks to the wrecker's ball, with plans lodged at Waipa District Council to demolish the former RSA building.

But its owner says all is not not lost for the 1877 landmark and is even floating the idea of flogging it for a dollar to whoever can take it away.

Tauranga man Robert Lee, who owned the site with his late brother, former Waipa deputy mayor Peter Lee, told the Waikato Times yesterday he had sold the building and land "subject to its removal".

"If the council allows it (the resource consent) I have two choices, I could either move it to another site or have it knocked down," he said.

"Obviously my preferred option is to have it removed."

The building could be listed on Trade Me, he said.

"I may put in on Trade Me with a listing to buy it for $1 and whoever buys it can come and take it away and re-site it." The Lee brothers bought the building in May 2005 for $525,000 from two Auckland investors.

They had bought the building from the RSA, which was forced to sell it because of dwindling membership.

Mr Lee said the buyer was a local businessman who had no interest in keeping the century-old building and had plans to build new premises on the site.

"If you go inside there are all new facilities inside, it has been completely renovated over the years," Mr Lee said.

The building was originally built for the Waikato Farmers' Club in 1877 and donated to the RSA in 1941.

The New Zealand Historic Places Trust has granted authorisation for the building to be demolished, but has stated that “whilst the building has undergone significant alteration and modification over the last 135 years since its construction in 1877, it still possesses important archaeological values”. Former Cambridge Community Board member Lesley Wyatt said she would fight any demolition plans.

"It shouldn't be destroyed, it's as simple as that," she said.

"Cambridge has already lost so many of its historic buildings, and we can't lose this one too." The outside of the building had remained virtually untouched, she said.

"And the building is completely sound."

Waipa District Council spokeswoman Lisa Nairne said the building was listed in the district plan as a heritage building.

The public can have its say until September 5. Contact Waipa District Council to make a submission.

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- Waikato Times

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