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Aucklanders Prefer Sale of Car-Park Over Queen Elizabeth Sq

Aucklanders Prefer Sale of Car-Park Over Queen Elizabeth Square

The two kiwi businessmen who have made an unconditional offer of $75 million cash to buy a downtown car-parking building from Auckland Council will meet with Auckland Mayor Len Brown and senior council officers on Monday morning to discuss their proposal.

The offer, by the Auckland entrepreneurs behind the city’s landmark City Works Depot precinct, James Brown, 39 of Freemans Bay, and Simon Rowntree, 39 of Orakei, is $10 million above valuation and expires at close of business on Friday.

“This is an outstanding offer from the council’s perspective: cash, unconditional, with a quick settlement and a legally binding commitment not to increase casual parking prices above the rate of inflation for at least five years. It is also clearly well above valuation, as evidenced by no other property investor coming forward to match it over the last 24 hours,” a spokesperson for Mr Brown and Mr Rowntree said today.

“James and Simon are very encouraged by the mayor agreeing to meet them and their lawyers so quickly after they made their offer, and by his comments on TV3’s The Nation this morning that he is open to divesting the car-park to help fast-track his Auckland City Rail Link, which they strongly support.”

The spokesperson said Mr Brown and Mr Rowntree were also encouraged by a UMR Research poll of 500 Aucklanders that they commissioned, which indicated a majority is much more comfortable with the Council divesting the car-park to Auckland businesspeople than Queen Elizabeth Square or Queen’s Wharf to foreign investors.

The poll, carried out last week before the offer was made public, found that while Aucklanders tend to oppose asset sales, they are very much more opposed to selling Queen Elizabeth Square or Queen’s Wharf than the car-parking building.

While 62% of Aucklanders oppose selling Queen Elizabeth Square and 56% oppose selling Queen’s Wharf, only 41% oppose the sale of the car-parking building, and 32% support it.

When asked which asset they would prefer sold to help fund the rail link, 51% opted for the car-parking building, with just 21% choosing Queen’s Wharf and 15% favouring Queen Elizabeth Square.

When asked who they would be comfortable selling an asset to, 91% said Auckland business interests, 41% said they would be comfortable seeing assets sold to Australian business interests and only 28% would be comfortable with Chinese business interests.

In his comments on The Nation this morning, the mayor appeared open-minded about the process to manage the sale, although he suggested it might be protracted.

“James and Simon’s offer expires at close of business on Friday and they will not participate in a protracted process. This matter will need to be resolved this week,” the spokesperson said.


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