July 23rd, 2022Sell The Rex: Council
Hepburn Matters is calling on the Hepburn Shire Council to hold off on any decision to sell The Rex until the end of November and “commit in principle to a co-design process between the council and community, to explore and reach mutually satisfactory outcomes”.
The move comes as the council meets this Tuesday, July 19, to vote on Infrastructure and Delivery manager Bruce Lucas’ recommendation for the sale of the historic Daylesford building.
In his report, Mr Lucas said the council had received feedback that demonstrated how parts “of our community are invested in this asset and officers have endeavoured to balance the passionate feedback with the longer-term sustainability of council”. Mr Lucas said the council received 373 survey responses, “a strong response to community engagement”, with 66 per cent against selling The Rex, 30 per cent in favour and 4 per cent not sure or neutral.
He said retaining The Rex as a community asset was not viable with the costs now likely be in excess of $18 million – in addition to the costs already expended. This is estimated on a commercial building rate of $9000 / m2 for a facility of 2052m2.
Hepburn Matters president Jules McDonald said The Rex building offered exciting and broad opportunities for the community and visitors, creating social connection, nurturing and promoting arts and culture and potentially training future generations of young people in a variety of areas to prepare for local employment.
“It is time to explore strategic options for community fundraising, including community investment models, that can be rigorously assessed and applied in realising the potential of The Rex as a huge asset for the community as well as cost containment through stepwise development of a proportion of the building, such as the historic front section and sale of the adjoining house.
“While the purchase of The Rex building and other matters relating to the project remain under investigation by the Local Government Inspectorate, now is not the time to sell The Rex when a report of this investigation is pending. The community deserves transparency on this subject before further decisions are made.
“The Rex is too important to lose – once it is gone, it is gone.”
Words: Donna Kelly