The development application (DA) for the demolition of Bondi’s 121-year-old Boot Factory has been delayed amid discussion over the current state of the heritage building and whether it can be retained.
Waverley Council will hold two briefings over the coming months to confer on the details of the DA and whether it can be expanded to consider alternative means of funding the restoration of the site and keeping the heritage building sustainable.
Waverley Mayor Sally Betts said the building was “unsafe”, with a further $1.2 million needed to keep the building standing, but argued these interim measures were not a final solution.
“We are starting to go down a process to brace the building, to protect the residents who live next door and the people who visit our senior centre,” Ms Betts said.
Ms Betts said attempted restorations in 1995 as well as 2007 and 2008 had all failed.
“We have tried continually spending quite a lot of money to keep it up and that’s why [a few years ago], we worked out that we could not possibly take the risk of keeping people working there,” she told the Bondi View.
“So we mothballed the building and it has been mothballed ever since, but we have been maintaining it as much as we can.”
An independent report conducted by structural engineer Dr Eric Smith was considered at Council’s November meeting together with recommendations from independent engineers at the Building Diagnosis Centre.
“Independent engineers have assessed The Boot Factory over many years before it was braced and Dr Smith made an assessment of [the site] after it had been braced, which has masked the critical failures of the building,” a Waverley Council spokesperson said.
Labor councillor Ingrid Strewe, who opposes demolition, said the decision to demolish the site is due to potential development opportunities that could be realised if the Boot Factory was taken down.
“It is an inconvenience to have the building,” she said.
“The Boot Factory [is set] to be demolished for some ‘place making’ dream we know nothing about.”
The two briefings will examine the history of the building, its current condition and any options for the site going forward.