Former Geelong Post Office to be sold or leased

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Council has put in place a thorough process aimed at giving new life to the former Geelong Post Office building through a sale or lease.

The property will be sold or leased through a competitive two-stage marketing process, including an Expression of Interest for use of the building and a subsequent Request for Tender.

The future tenant or owner will be required to follow the Conservation Management Plan (CMP), and any changes to the building are subject to Heritage Victoria approval. These two factors will see the building’s heritage significance strongly protected.

The site’s use and development will also be required to complement the overall civic, cultural and arts precinct.

Feedback and suggestions from the community on potential uses of the site included retaining the site in public hands for use as a museum or tourist centre; leasing the space as a Public Private Partnership; and the outright purchase of the site. Council has noted the 17 public submissions, however details weren’t provided on how the potential uses would be financially sustainable.

The City bought the former Geelong Post Office site in 1994 with an interest free loan of $670,000 from the state government, which remains unpaid. If the site is sold, the state government has approved the loan repayment to be redirected to the restoration of Osborne House and the Stables in North Geelong.

If sold, the sale price will be no less than an independent valuation.

If the City doesn’t receive any offers that are in line with the sale conditions, Council has requested the CEO provide a report.

The decision came after an amendment put forward by Councillor Jim Mason, which added the option of leasing the building and included extra measures to protect its heritage elements.

Councillor Bruce Harwood - Mayor

This matter has been the subject of extensive community consultation, and I’m glad the council has now taken a major step towards giving the property a potential new life through a sale or lease.

Community members can be assured the heritage elements of the historic site will be protected by the requirements of the Conservation Management Plan, regardless of its future tenant or owner.

Councillor Jim Mason - Chair - Arts, Culture and Heritage portfolio

This has been a very challenging process that’s taken a lot of thought, consideration, collaboration and goodwill.

The intent of the amendment we’ve passed is to further solicit uses for the building from the private or NGO sectors, while permanently protecting the building’s heritage and complementing the surrounding civic and cultural precinct.

The Heritage Advisory Committee voted last week that the building should be kept in public hands. Unfortunately, in 15 years, no-one has been able to show how this can be done in a financially sustainable way. This decision provides an opportunity for the private sector and for philanthropists to present options for the building to be brought to life for community use.

With this decision, the post office is not being thrown into a realm of lawlessness, a wild west. It will always lie in the realm of public protection. In the event of a sale, the building will be permanently protected under the Section 173 agreement and the Conservation Management Plan. Once the Section 173 is registered on the title, council as the responsible authority will always have the final say over any changes in the building’s use and development, regardless of its owner.

Page last updated: Wednesday, 28 August 2019