By ALLISON HORE
Restoration works to transform the historic Boot Factory in Bondi Junction into a new civic innovation hub have begun.
The former shoemaking factory behind Norman Lee Place on 27-33 Spring Street in Bondi Junction, once left to fall into disrepair, is set to be transformed into a new civic innovation hub.
The three-storey factory was built in 1892 by William Sidaway and Son. It was eventually acquired by the Bardon family, and, after World War II, it primarily produced high end ladies’ shoes for David Jones. The factory ended production in 1969 and in 1984 the Waverley Council acquired the building.
The Boot Factory is the last 19th century building in Bondi Junction, according to Graham Quint from the National Trust. But it has stood empty since 2007, and, despite heritage experts suggesting it held architectural, aesthetic and streetscape significance, it was allowed to fall into a state of disrepair.
From the years of neglect, the building was deemed “structurally unsound” and was set to be demolished in 2014. But the local community rallied to save it and to ensure the structure of the building was stable until a new use for the building could be found, the council undertook urgent remedial works.
From factory to future
Under the plan by Waverley Council, the building will find a new life as an “innovative space for business incubation and knowledge transfer.”
The development application for the project was approved in May last year. Waverley Mayor, Paula Masselos, said the project was one of the council’s key projects and part of her commitment to ensuring the area’s heritage buildings are restored and retained “for innovative future uses for the community.”
“Our intention is to return the Boot Factory to a community and Council building that will include a knowledge and innovation hub where we can nurture ideas to further transform Waverley into a ‘smart city’ of the future,” she said.
“We are now one step closer to fulfilling this vision for the Boot Factory, which over the years, has served as a base for community services and organisations including the Inventors Association of Australia. For it to be transformed into a hub for innovation once more is exciting.”
The first stage of the transformation will include restoration works to the building’s roof and masonry perimeter walls as well as new floors and a new interior fit-out. The building will also be connected to the neighbouring Mill Hill Community Centre to allow facilities to be shared. To make the most of the space, Waverley Council will also build a cafe and courtyard on the Spring Street entry to the precinct.
Weather permitting, work on the project is expected to be completed in the summer of 2020 to 2021.