Monday, July 22, 2024

RSA looking for new home

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The RSA was recently sold for several million dollars to a developer.

The Howick RSA – which was recently sold – has a temporary base at its Sale Street flats which will be used until new premises are found.

Howick RSA president Ray Sangster confirmed to the Times the aged property had been sold to a developer for multi-millions.

One media group reported it had sold for $4-$6 million to a Malaysian developer.

“We are still very much focused on our core philosophy of returned services,” Sangster said.

A base had been set up as a welfare office at the RSA’s flats in Sale Street, Howick “while we decide and look for more permanent premises”.

“Members can go there to discuss issues with the welfare office,” said Sangster.

Members have been using Bosuns Bar at The Prospect of Howick in Picton Street where the Eternal Flame and Ode of Remembrance Light have been placed since the RSA closed the doors to its Wellington Street headquarters in May 2021.

The RSA building was home to the Howick Returned and Services’ Community for 40 years.

When it shut its doors, it was in anticipation of a major joint venture redevelopment on the site.

The site’s redevelopment was to have taken up to two years however Covid lockdowns and the impact on supply chains and a subsequent massive increase in development costs saw a mutual scrapping of the joint venture plans, deemed to have become untenable.

The Auckland Council-backed height restriction of 9 metres was also a factor.

This left the RSA executive with no option but to consider its options given it was still paying out thousands of dollars a month for rates, insurances and other bills in a building that no longer met current building codes with estimates it could cost up to $1 million to bring it up to standard.

A vote at a recent extraordinary general meeting resulted in an almost unanimous decision to divest themselves of the property.

“We’re still committee to the core philosophy of the RSA and Armistice Day. Nothing has changed in 60 years [operating in Howick],” Sangster said.

He recognises there was a minority unhappy with the sale of the property.

Staying there or undertaking major requisite building work was unfeasible.

“We’d been losing money for a long time, possibly as long ago as 2013. We did not have a building warrant of fitness,” he said.

“The building was costing $5000 to $7000 per month to stay empty. We put it [the sale] to members and 110 voted for the sale, 12 were against and there were two abstentions.”

The sale proceeds have been invested.

“We’re working through that at the moment. We’re realigning the operations as opposed to re-establishing them..

The Poppy Trust and Welfare Trust are still operating, he said.

“We have a working group formed which will come back with recommendations and we will go back to members.”

He added that Bosuns was still used by some members and the Ode was read at 6pm every Friday.

“What’s touching is the public [in that bar] are always respectful.”

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