Trust selling its Howick village

5:03 AM Saturday October 29, 2016 Colin Taylor

A lane of units within Stevenson Village in Howick.

A returned servicemen’s accommodation village, established by one of Auckland’s pioneering families last century, is being marketed for possible redevelopment as a boutique aged care facility with healthcare services.

The Stevenson Village in the East Auckland suburb of Howick opened in 1975 as a charitable joint venture between Howick Returned Services Association and Sir William and Lady Stevenson.

The 36-unit complex was founded with the aim of providing low-cost and affordable accommodation to qualifying residents – including returned and former armed services personnel, and those with social housing needs. Management and operation of the village over the ensuing decades has been overseen by the not-for-profit Stevenson Village Charitable Trust.

The freehold land and buildings at 18 Botany Rd are being marketed for sale by David Bayley, James Chan, and Kevin Barber of Bayleys Auckland through a tender process closing on December 8 – with the property featuring in Bayleys’ latest Total Property portfolio out this week.

Barber says that under the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan, the Stevenson Village land is zoned as Mixed Housing Urban use. However, the property sits beside land zoned Business – Neighbourhood Centre, which accommodates a small suburban neighbourhood shopping centre with associated car parking.

Within the definition of Auckland Council’s Mixed Housing Urban zone is that the land may be used for “non-residential activities [which] provide for the community’s social, economic and cultural well-being”.

Subject to the appropriate council consents being acquired, both the Mixed Housing Urban and Neighbourhood Centre zonings permit a variety of development potentials for the Stevenson Village site, Barber says.

“The property could be redeveloped into a boutique aged care facility – either with or without on-site healthcare amenities,” he says.

“A new owner of the units in their current configuration could also look at placing the dwellings back into the rental pool at market levels when the current tenants have moved on. Longer-term plans could see the spatial redevelopment of the units to add more rooms to the current pool, or even a complete redevelopment of the site into a private housing enclave.”

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Two of the 36 units within Stevenson Village

The village occupies 6186sq m of land with dual access points onto Botany Rd and consists of 24 studio units, 11 one-bedroom dwellings, a one bedroom/one office manager’s residence, and communal hall and social amenity. Combined, there are 1520sq m of buildings on the land.

The village’s main hall encompasses a library and recreational facilities, as well as a piano and organ for musical recital sessions. The building could be converted or upgraded into an administration or medical services facility.

John Russell, chairman of the Stevenson Village Charitable Trust board, says it’s sad to bring the curtain down on the organisation’s social housing provision in the area. However, the funds secured from the sale, along with compounding interest over the ensuing years, will allow numerous community-focused charities to be funded well into next decade.

Proceeds from the sale are to be distributed to charities applying to the trust over coming years for funding grants to New Zealand registered charities.

Russell says the trust has been finding it increasingly difficult to meet its obligations under the charities legislation.

“As a social housing provider, the primary focus of Stevenson Village has been meeting the needs of those who have served their country and may otherwise not be able to afford a roof over their heads. Accordingly, rents have been well below market levels as the focus of the trust has been delivering on its social responsibility rather than making a profit,” he says.

The proposed settlement date on the property is June 30, 2017 - allowing residents within the village sufficient time to find alternative accommodation.

Russell says the trust will try to assist village residents, if desired, to find other suitable housing – working with both charitable organisations and Government agencies. “We hope all residents will be successfully rehoused well within the seven month settlement period proposed,” he says.

The longest residing occupant in the village has been a tenant for over 30 years. None of the original residents who moved into The Stevenson Village in 1975 are still in residence. Only three of the current tenants renting units at The Stevenson Village have connections to returned servicemen.

Reflecting the village’s commitment to delivering low-cost, affordable, housing the studio units are currently let for $125 a week, while the one bedroom units occupied by couples are let for $190 per week.

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An aerial view of Stevenson Village with red line indicating village borders. 

David Bayley says the latest statistics from the Government’s Tenancy Services agency record that the median rent for a one-bedroom unit in Howick is $350 per week.

“So significant upside on  rental revenues could be derived from the dwellings as holding income while any necessary council consents and approvals are acquired and new architect’s plans drawn up for future use of the site,” he says.

Bayley says the presence of a residential manager on site throughout the duration of Stevenson Village’s life has ensured that the individual dwellings and infrastructure are in an excellent condition for their age – with a full regular maintenance schedule underpinning any on-going repairs.

The dwellings within Stevenson Village are constructed of breeze blocks – donated to the construction process by benefactor Sir William Stevenson. Single level terraced units are grouped together in various configurations of between two to five dwellings built in a lay out resembling the original colonial Howick Village settlement of the late 1800s.

The Stevenson group of companies has strong links to the Howick area, and was founded in the early 1900s by William Stevenson and his sons Jim and William – later to become Sir William who set up the Stevenson Village Trust. The company quickly became integral with the construction of major roading and infrastructure projects throughout New Zealand over the ensuing hundred years.

The Stevenson Village complex is close to several retail and social amenities – including Howick Village, Highland Park Shopping Centre and the Lloyd Elsmore Park and sports facilities nearby.

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David Bayley (top) and Kevin Barber (bottom), of Bayleys Auckland.