By Rhonda Dredge
Controversy has erupted over the impending sale of the CBD’s oldest dwelling and shop, Russell’s Old Corner Store, built in 1850.
The Age revealed on April 10 that the City of Melbourne would not proceed with the purchase of the property.
“The City of Melbourne expressed interest in preserving it,” Owen Dixon, nephew of the owner, said.
“I guess their priorities have changed in the past 12 months since the pandemic. They’re more interested in trying to save business.”
The two-story dwelling in King St has been in the one family for more than 120 years.
It was restored by the current owner Lola Russell in 1989 and run as a tea and luncheon room with her husband George.
Lola is now in aged care and even though the family does not want to sell the property, “my aunt is a priority,” Mr Dixon said.
He confirmed that the property would be put up for sale now that the deal with the City of Melbourne had fallen through.
“We hope in the next fortnight to be listing it with an agent,” he said. “We’re now actively interviewing agents.”
Meanwhile local CBD residents and friends of the couple have bought into the controversy.
They’re afraid that developers will buy the site, which could be worth up to $4 million.
“My fear is that they will leave the building to deteriorate so much so that council will condemn it,” Debra Van Ommen, CBD resident and friend of Lola and George, said.
The property is already in scaffolding because of a cracking wall but she said she had a consortium willing to put $600,00 into restoration.
“William Angliss College has expressed interest in running it as a tea room,” she told CBD News.
For a full report on the sentimental value of Russell’s Old Corner Store to one heartbroken local, read this month’s CBD Local on page 17.