The ornate Newcastle Post Office, which has sat vacant for more than 10 years, will be repurposed into a hospitality centre and cultural venue following its sale in August to Sydney-based developer Jerry Schwartz for $3.5 million.
“You know what? I probably won’t (make any money from it)”, Mr Schwartz told The Newcastle Herald in this item. “It’s a posterity thing that I would love to do because I have got quite a big foot-print in the Hunter. I make a lot of money from my other hotels. It’s just something I want to do, I think it would be a shame for the post office to be ruined and turned into some sort of money-making project”.
The basement level of the sandstone post office (pictured, top) is now mooted to become an Aboriginal cultural centre. The ground floor will be refitted as retail – with wedding-focussed outlets (including a florist, photographers, and dress shop, suggested), while the top level will make way for a function centre.
The proposal has not yet been approved by the local council.
Interestingly, Mr Schwartz missed out on buying the post office in 2010 – his offer of $3.3 million at auction was not accepted, paving the way for the NSW government to acquire it, for $4.6 million.
The Awabakal Land Council then successfully appealed in the NSW Land and Environment Court for the building in 2014. It offered the site for sale via an expressions of interest campaign, managed by Colliers International’s Adam Leacy and Michael Chapman, last year.
It has been reported the ALC sold the asset after failing in raise money for its restoration, which it is estimated will cost about $15 million.
Mr Schwartz (pictured, left) made headlines nine months ago paying $65.25 million for the Phoenix Acres estate of Singapore- based businessman Chio Kiat Ow, in Vaucluse – a property built on what was years ago a public park connected to a wharf and ferry service to Circular Quay.
The developer and cosmetic surgeon subsequently listed his outgoing family home, Loch Maree, also in the suburb, for $32 million.
Mr Schwartz has been lobbying the City of Sydney council for several years to convert a former monorail station outside his Rydges World Square hotel in the city’s Liverpool Street into a boardroom and offices.
Decommissioned five years ago, there are five vacant monorail stations in the Sydney CBD.