First groups inspect old Geelong Post Office as icon hits the market

The old Geelong Post Office at 83 Ryrie St, hit the market for the first time.
The old Geelong Post Office at 83 Ryrie St, hit the market for the first time.

The old Geelong Post Office has hit the market in a campaign to present options for City Hall to decide on the future use of the heritage-listed building.

Geelong real estate agents Colliers International have launched an expressions of interest campaign, which has already revealed 12 potential suitors.

The first four prospective buyers inspected the circa-1890 building at 83 Ryrie St on Wednesday.

Colliers International, Geelong director Andrew Lewis said the two-part expressions of interest campaign sought potential buyers or tenants to submit proposed uses for the building. Short-listed parties would be invited to then submit tenders.

Lewis says the campaign was designed to provide Geelong’s council with options for future use of the landmark, site of the first automatic telephone exchange in the southern hemisphere.

The council wants proponents to find uses for the old Geelong Post Office to complement the nearby arts and culture precinct.

The building contains significant features that are heritage protected.

“Our role is not to sell it, our role is to give council options and then they determine what to do with it,” he says.

Strict internal and external heritage controls, including requirements for ongoing maintenance and repairs, are likely to hit price expectations.

Industry sources last year suggested the former post office could be worth about $5 million, though that’s unlikely to be achieved given the heritage status, location and design constraints reducing the options available to buyers.

Campaign documents reveal the council want to encourage users to reinstate the former postal hall inside the building and re-open the original Gheringhap St entrance.

A 1960s addition at the rear could be demolished, while expansion to create an additional floor within the roof space could be approved, provided it was not be visible from street level.

Including the ornate staircase.

Heritage guidelines also dictate the external colour scheme.

Colliers agent Ben Young says the corner clock tower and building’s French Second Empire architecture is a significant feature in Geelong.

“The two-storey rendered brick structure originally included postal and telegraph services on the ground floor, with government offices on the first floor,” he says.

“Residential accommodation for the postmaster was provided to the west side of the building over both levels.”

The building has floorspace of 1695sqm on a 1300sqm site with an Activity Centre zoning.

It is close to Johnstone Park, the arts precinct, Lt Malop Street precinct and Geelong’s waterfront.

The interior fit-out as an office complex is considered of little significance.

The main entry from Ryrie St.

Lewis says most of the initial interest has come from local buyers.

“No-one is talking to us about use because no-one has been through it yet,” he says.

Mayor Stephanie Asher says the council hopes a successful buyer or tenant will complement the arts and cultural precinct and celebrate the heritage of the much-loved building.

“We’re really excited to see some creative and inspiring proposals for such a central and iconic piece of Geelong’s history,” she says.

“I think all of the councillors would like to see expressions of interest that celebrate the building’s history, complement the nearby cultural precinct and open it up for community use.”

Expressions of interest close March 26 March at 3pm, with an additional tender process for successful submissions to occur after.

This article from The Geelong Advertiser originally appeared as “Former Geelong Post Office listed for sale or lease as council seeks big ideas for its future use”.