A plaque on a wall could be the final remnant of Bondi Beach’s heritage-listed post office if redevelopment of the building goes ahead, local residents say.
The post office, built in 1922 and described as an example of “inter-war stripped classical style”, was quietly sold by Australia Post for $10 million to financial advisor Jamie Nemtsas.
Redevelopment plans emerged after Mr Nemtsas on-sold it to Sydney construction and property developer Taylor with an asking price of $15 million.
Senator Doug Cameron was outraged about the sale and raised the issue in the Senate before the last federal election.
“Here we have a valuable and important public asset, a community asset that is heavily utilised by residents, sold off for a pittance without going to tender, behind closed doors,” he said.
Taylor’s development application (DA) includes three storeys of apartments with a retail shopfront underneath and two levels of parking underground.
The DA has provisions which retain the facade, with a “relatively small plaque” titled “Bondi Beach Post Office” as an historic marker.
The worst case scenario would see the post office relocated somewhere else, Lenore Kulakauskas, convenor of Bondi Beach Precinct, said.
She is appalled at the idea of the plaque.
“I think it’s disgusting – the thing is, the post office is more than just a post office in Bondi,” she said.
“It’s a focal point in Hall Street, it’s a corner site, there are trees out the front where people meet and talk to each other. It’s a community gathering place.”
Earlier this year a local planning committee rejected the DA, unhappy about heritage impact and an “inadequate response to the cultural and aesthetic significance of the place”.
Taylor then appealed to the Land and Environment Court — which will hold conciliation talks this month to try and find an agreement.
Local residents are now planning a series of protests outside the post office building to make their feelings known in the lead-up to the court hearing.
They are determined to retain the post office in the current location for social, heritage and environmental reasons, Ms Kulakauskas said.
“There’s a lot of feeling about our heritage here in Bondi that we need to retain – being one of the first beaches that people ever went to in Australia,” she said.
“Heavens above, save our history. You can tell our story in our built form, once you destroy that your stories start to disappear as well.”
The Bondi Beach Precinct has also raised concerns about environmental issues raised by the DA about “bulk excavation” and its impact on neighbouring buildings.
The DA also mentions groundwater flows would need to be “closely examined” as “re-distribution of the flow will potentially lead to problems elsewhere”, it said.
Australia Post said it would make sure a post office was housed within one kilometre of the of the existing site under the terms of the sale.
The ABC attempted to contact Taylor for comment on this story.