Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Council begins search for Osborne House partner

The City of Greater Geelong has launched a search for a partner or partners to help redevelop the iconic North Geelong landmark, Osborne House.

Through an Expressions of Interest process that opened yesterday, the City is calling for public or private investors with a vision to bring the historic waterfront site back to life.

In line with sustainable redevelopment principles adopted last year, the Council will consider proposals for a mix of community, public and/or commercial uses.

Any development would need to protect and celebrate the heritage values of Osborne House and the surrounding site, including the land’s First Nations heritage.

Mayor Stephanie Asher (pictured, right) said Osborne House – which was built in 1858 – was a significant asset for the region with enormous potential given its location and spectacular views over Corio Bay.

“The site has incredible history through our First Nations people, the early pastoralists who built Osborne House, as Australia’s first Royal Australian Naval College, as headquarters for the former Shire of Corio, and through a wide range of community uses over time,” Mayor Asher said.

“We now want to see Osborne House gain new life as a place that’s well used and loved by our local community.

“It also has significant potential as a tourism drawcard given its location between the central Geelong waterfront and the future docking point of the Spirit of Tasmania.”

As part of its proposed budget released last Tuesday night, Council is projecting a further investment of $8 million over the next four years in Osborne House, starting from 2022-23. 

This would add to a previous $2 million allocation, which is funding restoration works already in progress.

Chair of the Osborne House portfolio, Councillor Eddy Kontelj said Council was determined to achieve an exciting outcome for the community.

“This is an amazing opportunity and we hope to find willing public or private investors to go on this journey with us,” Cr Kontelj said.

“It’s a huge step forward for the future of Osborne House and one the community has been asking for and encouraging for some time.

“We have undertaken a very thorough process and extensive community consultation to reach this point, and we’re now looking to see some creative ideas put forward that would allow Osborne House to be activated again, while celebrating its considerable heritage.”

The total cost of redeveloping Osborne House has been estimated at in excess of $21 million, depending on the type of future uses and development proposed.

An option for sale of the land and buildings is not being considered as part of the EOI, given the Council’s 2018 resolution to retain public ownership.

All future development must comply with the principles of the Lovell Chen Conservation Management Plan prepared for the site in 2009.

Work completed to date has included restoring or replacing 50 windows and French doors and installing fire detection systems, while stable wall remediation works and are due to begin in the near future.

The development of the EOI documentation and process has been carried out in consultation with the Osborne House Project Control Group, which includes representatives from the City, Heritage Victoria, National Trust of Australia (Victoria) and the Osborne Park Association.

Expressions of Interest are open until 4 June 2021. To express interest or for more information, click here

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