Sunday, April 14, 2024

Former library building set to be sold

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Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown says the former Howick Library building in Fencible Drive should have been sold and demolished years ago. Times photo Wayne Martin

It’s a large and derelict eyesore in the heart of an east Auckland shopping precinct and its future will finally be decided.

The former Howick Library building at 16 Fencible Drive, which is owned by Auckland Council, has sat empty since 2011.

It’s among the properties the council’s finance and performance committee voted in September last year to sell.

Urban regeneration agency Panuku Development Auckland is responsible for managing council buildings and land.

Panuku assets and delivery general manager Marian Webb says the organisation is working through the early stages of readying the property for sale.

Initial investigations are completed and determined the surrounding land will remain as car parking and therefore won’t surrendered to support the sale, she says.

“As soon as the property is ready to be sold it will be done so through an open and transparent process.”

According to a council document, it covers 648 square metres and was acquired by the former Howick Borough Council in 1975 for use as a public hall and library.

The property was sold in 2001 and on-sold in 2005.

It was repurchased by the former Manukau City Council under mortgagee sale in 2008.

The property is not fit for leasing, the document says, while a second council document describes the building as structurally unsound.

Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown, whose electorate encompasses Howick village, recently wrote to Panuku chief executive David Rankin to ask for an update on the planned sale.

“This property is in a seriously dilapidated state and has been for many years,” Brown wrote.

“The local community are rightly upset it continues to sit there unused and lacking maintenance and it has become a real eyesore within the Howick Village.”

Brown’s letter asks when Panuku intends to sell the property and how the organisation will ensure the building is demolished “rather than left in its current state by a private owner”.

Brown told the Times the council has “neglected Howick” by allowing the building to deteriorate.

“It is in such a state of disrepair that it could cost millions to fix due to various issues, such as asbestos.

“Their position to sell it is the right one but the council should have sold it many years ago, or done something else with it.”

Brown says the council and Howick Local Board’s Howick Village Centre Plan planning document “will have something to say” about what happens to the site in future.

“Panuku needs to ensure when it is sold it is demolished,” he says of the building.

“It needs to allow for expressions of interest, and if there is interest from people in the local community, it needs to be an open and transparent process. That is important.

“It cannot be left in its current state because it has deteriorated so much and [what it’s replaced with] needs to fit in with the village, whether that’s apartments, or shops, or commercial.”

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