Acquisition of former ambulance station moves a step closer
Published: 17 Mar 2022 4:03pm
Wagga Wagga City Council today announced it has exchanged contracts and is now in the settlement process with the NSW Government to acquire the former ambulance station in the city centre.
Council and Property NSW recently reached agreement on the Terms of Proposed sale for the Johnston Street premises, with settlement due on 29 March 2022.
Director Regional Activation Michael Keys said Council is keen to move ahead with its vision of transforming the historic building into a business and creative industry hub.
“It could be a mix of local business support and act as a business events venue, but it would also build on and facilitate further development of the cultural and creative arts industry here in Wagga Wagga and surrounds,” Mr Keys said.
“It is an important asset and Council is pleased to be able to take stewardship of that connection to our city’s history and give this heritage building in the heart of our city a new lease on life by using it for community and not-for-profit purposes.
“We are planning to go to market next week to call for Expressions of Interest to occupy and use the premises, with the initial offer for a 12-month licence to trial the new facility.”
A report will go to the next meeting of Council for endorsement, with the Expressions of Interest (EOI) period set to run from Wednesday 23 March until Thursday 14 April 2022.
In the interim, Council is planning to start work on bringing the building up to a suitable standard, ready for occupation, with the primary focus on the ground floor.
The building has stood empty since it closed in 2016 following the completion of the new station in Fernleigh Road.
“It does need a little bit of work, so we’ll be painting the lower level and putting in carpet, as well as ensuring the services are upgraded and safe for use,” Mr Keys said.
“The bare bones and fabric of the building really are a testament to the way it was constructed, and those heritage characteristics remain, so we hope to facilitate a new community use and reactivate the site.
“At this point, it doesn’t really have accessibility to all floors, and we would like to address that, but that is going to require a substantial investment in future stages.”
The announcement of the agreement and EOI process brings to fruition extended discussions and negotiations with the government.
“Although Council sought the return of the building to the local community for a peppercorn fee we are grateful that the NSW Government recognised the significance and value of the site to the community and negotiated the purchase directly with Council,” Mr Keys said.
Mayor of the City of Wagga Wagga Councillor Dallas Tout said it is exciting to see this important project take the next step.
“This is a significant building both in terms of its heritage and architectural significance, as well as its connection to the community of Wagga Wagga,” Cr Tout said.
“The original building was constructed through community donations and then gifted to the NSW Ambulance Service more than 90 years ago.
“It is wonderful to see it in a sense returning to the community and I look forward to seeing the visions for this building’s future become a reality.”
More information about the Expression of Interest process will be released next week.