A massive catering company has applied to revamp what is considered by many to be the oldest surviving shop row in the city, the currently derelict “Job Warehouse”.
The O’Brien Catering Group applied for a heritage permit for conversion, refurbishment and demolition work on the building at 54-62 Bourke St, which has been empty since 2012.
The O’Brien Group runs the nearby Imperial Hotel, the O’Brien Group Arena in Docklands, AAMI Park and the Prince Alfred Hotel in Melbourne.
Its growing venue list also includes multiple big stadiums in other cities as well as Grosvenor House in Brisbane and the Bondi Icebergs in Sydney.
The Crossley Building, known as the “Job Warehouse” because of a recognisable shop-front sign, has become increasingly run-down over the years despite its heritage recognition.
It is considered a rare example of a pre-gold rush commercial building, built in a notable austere Georgian style. It was built in 1848 by a well-known butcher named Crossley.
It was later occupied by Sir William Angliss and then by a grocer and fruiterer until the Paperback Book Shop moved into one corner of the building in 1969.
The Paperback Book Shop told CBD News the works would not affect their tenancy and they would be remaining in the building.
Jacob Zeimer, a post-war European migrant, purchased another part of the building in the late 1950s. He opened the drapery business known as the “Job Warehouse’”. That business closed in 2012.
Other notable past tenants include prominent artist Eugene von Geurard, who occupied part of the building in 1857-58.
The Age reported in February that the O’Brien Group had purchased a 40-year lease on the property.
The permit application includes a large list of repairs and moderations to be done on the site, which photos show in a derelict state.
Extensive work is needed on the roof and facades, as well as internally, including the removal of rotten timber. The courtyard is also proposed to undergo significant work. The “Job Warehouse” sign will also be removed.
Submissions to Heritage Victoria on the application closed on May 22.