Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Once the Ritz

from w
Once upon a time, it really was the Ritz!

This two storey building is so totally trashed that calling it a heritage site is strange. For twenty years or more it has been neglected, destroyed by squatters and neglected by the owner who was told to renovate. It stands beneath brand new four or more storey flats as part of Geelong's urban renewal near the Waterfront. Here are photos by red bubble and others to show the disgraceful state of the building.

And an article in the Geelong Advertiser.

THE RITZ: Ex mayor slams owner's inaction

THE owner of the Ritz Flats ruin shouldn't be allowed to demolish the building, according to a former Geelong branch president of the National Trust.
Hayden Spurling, a City of Geelong mayor in the 1980s, said every effort should be made to retain what was left of the building.
"This is exactly what he (the owner) wants. He wants the building demolished," Mr Spurling said. "After 20 years, he has no intention of doing anything with it now. He must be held to account.
"He's thumbing his nose at the Geelong community."
Mr Spurling said Geelong had already lost too many historic buildings and spaces and needed to respect its history.
"We've lost Harding Park and that was a disgrace, let's not lose this for the sake of doing what needed to be done 20 years ago," he said.

Your SayMember for Geelong Ian Trezise said if there was a community safety issue with the building, the State Government should step in.

"The current owner has treated it with absolute disrespect and that makes me angry," he said.
"Community safety has to be number one and if the building has to go, it has to go, but this is a prime example of demolition by neglect and the inaction of the owner is a disgrace.
"My concern is this sends a strong message to other owners of historic and heritage buildings that if you continue to let your property go to rack and ruin, sooner or later you'll get permission to pull it down."

And also from the Geelong Advertiser

THE owners of the dilapidated Ritz building have until Friday morning to fence off the site following an emergency order by City of Greater Geelong.
Fencing has arrived on site today but is unlikely to be erected until the adjoining carpark is cleared later this evening.
“If the owner has complied with the emergency order by fencing off the site, then Council does not need to take any further action,”
Manager City Development Joanne Van Slageren said.“An engineer’s report would need to be provided demonstrating the safety of the building before any barricading could subsequently be removed.” 
SOUTH Barwon MP Andrew Katos has declared time's up for Geelong's Ritz Flats and wants the building torn down in the interests of public safety and pride. 
"It's just an eyesore and a monstrosity and a danger," Mr Katos said of the site yesterday. "This needs to come down. This has dragged on for 20 years and this has to come down. It's as simple as that."
He believes disrepair has voided the building's heritage value and wants any heritage features mirrored in a new building on the site.
Mr Katos spoke as heat intensified on the building's owner, Tim Truong, as the clock ticked on a 48-hour City of Greater Geelong emergency order to fence off land adjoining the building's cracked southern wall.
That order followed an ignored emergency order to provide expert analysis on the wall's structural integrity.
The Geelong Advertiser revealed the crack in the building and called for the site to be fenced off.
Mr Katos said Victorian Planning Minister Matthew Guy had asked to see the building during a visit to Geelong and had pledged to help council work around heritage overlays if it was to be demolished.
"The heritage has probably hamstrung council. I think if the heritage could have been resolved some time ago I think you would have seen movement on this building quite a while ago," Mr Katos said.
"The problem is that this building I don't think can be saved in its state. That's the issue now."
Geelong region National Trust conservation spokeswoman Jennifer Bantow yesterday lamented the state of play.
"It's a dreadful shame that it has reached this point. It was at one point able to be restored and it's another example of this term we all know as demolition by neglect," Mrs Bantow said.
"Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any way of compelling people to maintain heritage places unless someone is living in them and it is condemned or something."
Mr Katos pointed to elements of life in the Ritz's neighbourhood; new flats, parkland and loving restoration of The Lord Nelson hotel. "And all of a sudden we've got this," he said.
He urged Mr Truong to get on with whatever plans he had for the site.
"If you're not going to develop it, knock it down and sell it to someone who will," he said.
Mr Truong's lawyer, Bowman & Knox partner Ian Knox, declined to comment.
And the people say –

Harvey of Newtown Posted at 4:10pm Thursday
the owner wanted it pulled down and the council would not let him.It will cost $150,000 just tp prop up the outside walls just to save them during construction.Anyway he was offered more than $5,000,000 for the site and knocked it back. Who wants to pay more????
Lana C of Geelong Posted at 2:28pm Thursday
My mum's cousin owned the Ritz when she was a child and she recalls it being a special place, iconic in Geelong. It is clear the current owner is trying to outsmart the Council by doing nothing, and have them order the Ritz be demolished so that he doesn't have to work around preserving its historic facade. Get tough Council, force him to sell so that a new deserving owner can respect a piece of Geelong's history, address safety issues and take advantage of the property's great potential!
Lynn of Lara Posted at 1:08pm Thursday
If there was any chance of restoration it should have been done years ago. Now its just a rotted, ugly, eye saw. Too far gone to even consider restoration. The sooner its pulled down the better.
Meanwhile on the hillsides on the outskirts of Geelong, little boxes on the hillside seem to be rising - or not always little though.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blame the council, not the owners. The owners have made many applications over the years to convert this building into a vibrant residential/hospitality hub, yet the council knocked back all applications.

3:59 AM  
Anonymous Lori said...

I lived at the Ritz flats for a time in the early 1960's and it was a busy bee of a place. There were permanent residents, like us, and a never ending stream of tourists coming to stay at Eastern Beach. It was an amazing era when things were simpler and wants & needs were less important and survival was more important than keeping up with the Jones' family.
I think she should be demolished as she does not deserve to be held in ridicule and mutilated. She will always be in the hearts of those who stayed within her sturdy walls.
It's a sad time when the people you elect can't save something as simple as cultural history. What an amazing museum it would have made.

1:54 AM  

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