It’s not every day we get a totally positive story in BB. When it happens it’s worth making as many people know about it as possible. The repurposing of the Old Byron Bay Hospital site has been in process now for a number of years and is now about to come to fruition.
The good news is that this is one of the few projects in our very contentious and combative community that has harmony and collaboration. It has continually had unanimous support from councillors and staff. It has been guided through the arduous process by community members who have volunteered their time and expertise. Many people thought that getting the site for cheap and then finding the money to repurpose was an impossible dream.
Byron Shire Councillors last week voted to make Old Byron Hospital Ltd the head tenant of the Shirley St property. The council bought the site from the state government for $1 last year. This was a pretty good deal as the site has a rough valuation of $20 mil. Council also agreed to front up with $3.5 mil of borrowed funds to complete the repurposing and fit-out. It is hoped the building will be ready to be occupied in the middle of next year and the leases will then pay off the debt. The community will then have a substantial asset in perpetuity.
Thanks to Volunteers
Chris Hanley, principal of First National REA, is the chair of Old Byron Hospital Ltd and has nothing but praise for all councillors, staff, NSW State Health, Ben Franklin MLC, and everyone on the team. The local team includes Stephen Eakin, Andrew Young, Harley Graham (Architect) and Todd Knaus. We owe these individuals our appreciation for enhancing and adding to community-owned infrastructure.
The head tenant will be Southern Cross University. Other well-known local community groups and organisations are also lining up for space. Ideally, the tenants need to be offering services providing Culture, Community Services, Education and Health. Some spaces will also be commercial and it will also include a café.
Space For Community Organisations
“A lot of the groups that will go in there will be community organisations that will help all sorts of people,” Mr Hanley said. “If a council and community can create a project that’s (reusing) an old building with such good karma as that hospital, it’s as good as it gets. Community-council projects are difficult sometimes in our shire. This one has shown a lot of people that projects with a community and council collaboration work really well if those doing the collaborating are in the right space.”
Let’s hope that goodwill can continue on with other beneficial projects for the community (ie Mullumbimby Hospital Site). If you would like to find out more about leasing opportunities contact Chris Hanley on [email protected].