The sale this week of the former Icepak site has failed to sever links with its tragic past.
The derelict site in central Tamahere was bought by one of the architects of the tragedy that cost the life of a firefighter in 2008, former Icepak director Wayne Grattan.
Grattan, who was personally fined $30,000 for his part in the death of firefighter Derek Lovell and injury to seven others, paid $865,000 for the former coolstore site where the disaster played out eight years ago.
The Icepak company was sold to Halls Group, a refrigeration transport company, in February this year.
At the time the property, on the corner of Devine and Koppens Roads, went on the market in May, Halls Group chief financial officer Brendon Furness told the Waikato Times the company “felt it was good to sell the land and hopefully bring some of the community some peace.”
But the sale to Grattan will not be the fresh start hoped for by locals still haunted by the death and injury on their doorstep.
Near neighbour Arnold Koppens said he was very disappointed that Grattan had bought the land at auction yesterday.
“The agent said there was spirited bidding. Why didn’t he [Grattan] just stay out of it?” Koppens asked.
Bayleys agent Richard Graham said Grattan proposed to develop the 2ha property into lifestyle lots.
“He competed on a personal basis,” Graham said. “He’s familiar with the site and has a personal interest in developing it.”
Graham said up to 10 interested parties attended the auction with several bidding.
The site, which is zoned residential, could, subject to council approval, be subdivided into four lots averaging 5000 sq m or possibly more with a resource consent.
Thanks to its commercial history, the site is extensively covered with concrete which would need to be removed before the land could be rehabilitated for residential use. Estimates have put the cost of removing the concrete at up to $200,000.
More on this topic: Five years on from Icepak fire
In other stories: Corporate manslaughter calls grow