The 130-year old former Geelong Post Office will be converted into a boutique hospitality complex after selling to town local Bill Votsaris for a speculated $4.3-$4.5 million.
City of Greater Geelong offered 83 Ryrie Street for sale or lease seven months ago as part of a two stage process which followed community engagement sessions regarding its outcome mid-last year.
At a special meeting last week, it awarded a $20m hotel-based proposal by the developer’s Batman Management Group – and confirmed ownership would change hands.
Conversion given a working title: Precinct Art Hotel
Batman intends to reinstate a “grand entrance” on Gheringhap St – but demolish a c50-plus-year old addition to the property’s northern boundary.
This move, council said, “would provide the opportunity to create a new, detached building on the same site” which “would offer complementary accommodation and hospitality services, supported by a public garden and forecourt”.
The project, given the working title of Precinct Art Hotel, is also designed with a wellness centre, restaurant, rooftop bar and café.
Public art and a rotating light sculpture installation will form part of the fit out (story continues below).
Mr Votsaris said Batman intends to activate the heritage building with 21st century amenities, with uses for public patronage.
Project manager Paul Votsaris added the development would connect to the city’s Little Malop St food precinct.
Former Geelong Post Office in private hands for the first time
The property operated as Geelong Post Office between 1891-1994, when council purchased it from Australia Post for city services departments and to offer community groups.
It has been vacant for two years.
Greater Geelong mayor Stephanie Asher said “council was seeking a submission that celebrated the building’s rich history, complemented the wider arts and cultural precinct and encouraged diverse community use”.
Joyce Architects’ Tarryn Joyce added that by removing the non-heritage 1960s addition, the proposed building can be held off the historic one in a sensitive way.
“These moves allow the heritage building to stand alone and hold its true proportion with re-framed presentation to the street,” the designer said.