Auckland Council in turmoil over discounted property sale

The cut-price sale of a prime piece of council-owned real estate has turned councillors against the council.

The 18-storey Civic Administration Building is changing hands for just $3 million, prompting two elected members of Auckland Council to take legal action against their own organisation.

Officially coined "The CAB" the ex-council headquarters is set to be the crowning jewel of a new look Aotea Square.

However, councillor Mike Lee says Aucklanders should be outraged at the sale.

"It's gotta be a loss, to give that away for $3 million plus the land, it's not only a bad deal it's actually a losing deal for the people of Auckland, so it doesn't make sense," Lee told Newshub.

"It's an absolute scandal. I think the people of Auckland are being ripped off. Where else in New Zealand, or anywhere actually, can you get an 18-storey office building and a half hectare of land in the CBD of the biggest city in the country?"

Auckland Council's development agency Panuku revealed the previously-secret sale price on Friday.

It was the city's first "skyscraper" but was found to have high levels of asbestos in the 90s which Mayor Phil Goff says is costly to remove.

"This is not a gift to anyone, this is a saving to the ratepayer of $80 million that we would have otherwise spent," Goff told Newshub.

Developer Love and Co didn't return Newshub's calls but has previously stated the building will have its challenges and not every developer would have taken it on.

The former office space will become 110 new apartments while the penthouse suite alone is on the market for $15 million.

Lee wanted the sale process halted but his move was defeated. He now says legal action will follow.

"We're not going to let it go and we are in discussions with a Queens Council about what we can do to at least open this up to the public."

The new apartment building is part of an entire redevelopment of Aotea Square into the Civic Quarter.

This includes a 140 room hotel, 90 other new dwellings, a community and cultural building, as well as retail space.

Goff says breaking the deal to sell the building, originally made in 2016 before he took office, would cost ratepayers tens of millions of dollars in damages for a breach of contract.

"I know it's the election season, but you work on the basis of the expert advice. I was not going to put the burden of another $80 million on ratepayers."

Major work on the development is expected to start in about a month unless the courts say otherwise.