Council sells pensioner housing for $3.7m
DANIEL ADAMS AND CHRIS GARDNER
Hamilton City Council has grossed $3.7m from the controversial sale of three pensioner housing blocks, with two going to the highest bidder.
The three properties - on River Rd, Ascot Rd and Johnson St - have a total of 51 units and were part of the city council's stock of 24 pensioner complexes.
The Johnson St units have been sold to The Crosslight Trust and Habitat for Humanity for $610,000, which was $165,000 less than the highest offer, and they will continue to operate them as subsidised pensioner housing.
The River Rd complex sold for $1,350,000 and Ascot Rd for $1,751,000.
The proceeds will cover the entire redecoration and refurbishment budget of the city's other pensioner housing complexes for the next 10 years.
Council chief executive Barry Harris said the sales had secured "excellent value for the ratepayers", and the tenants had been kept fully updated.
Councillor Ewan Wilson said the profits foregone by taking the sympathetic offer for Johnson St were "the price of fulfilling our responsibilities".
Mayor Julie Hardaker said she was satisfied with the Johnson St offer, and described the sales as a good outcome for ratepayers and the tenants.
But councillor Dave Macpherson said the sales took away "important social infrastructure that is becoming ever more vital as our population ages".
"These blocks of units, according to the best estimates supplied by our staff, have returned more to the council since they were built than they have cost us, but successive council administrations, including this one, have failed to invest in their upkeep and upgrading to modern standards," he said.
"Council management and the mayor have demonstrated throughout that they know the price of everything, and the value of nothing."
But Ms Hardaker said the units had required significant capital expenditure, and the sales meant council could get the rest of its housing stocks up to standard without having to go back to ratepayers.
Crosslight Trust, a Christian social services agency, and Habitat for Humanity, a not-for-profit Christian organisation that builds and renovates homes for social housing are celebrating their successful bid for the units.
Trust chairperson Diana Brown described the sale as a "miracle".
"I am overwhelmed, absolutely overwhelmed and this is realising our hopes and dreams because it's right there on the spot for us," she said.
The flats back onto to the trust's office and op shop in Rifle Range Rd.
"We are just delighted with the council. I am overjoyed. I have to say it's a miracle. It's an equal partnership with Habitat for Humanity and we are going in 50-50 with it. Together we will have a holistic approach as we want to support elderly people who we are already running programmes for."
Nic Greene, general manager of Habitat for Humanity in the Central North Island, thought the sale was in recognition of its capability and track record.
"We are very thankful to the council for following through with the idea that we have all been talking about for a long time.
"The Habitat motto is ‘A world where everyone has a decent place to live' and this is certainly involved in that. What we want to do is reinvent that concept here in co-operation with the Crosslight Trust and make these a good living space," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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