Demolition refusal, then 22 years neglect: another St Georges Road, Toorak property tale

Demolition refusal, then 22 years neglect: another St Georges Road, Toorak property tale
Demolition refusal, then 22 years neglect: another St Georges Road, Toorak property tale

Toorak is never short of a captivating property drama.

The latest involves the future of the 1913 Edwardian residence, Idylwilde at 16 St Georges Road.

But just across the road at 29/31 St Georges Road is another fascinating story – one going back 23 years, to when the 7,246 square metre holding was bought by the Ausvest development company, then directed by King Kwok Yu and Man Kit Yu. Ausvest's past development projects include the eight-storey Kings apartment building on the corner of Toorak and Williams roads in 2000, on the former site of the Wesleyan Church.

Family member David Yu is the entrepreneur who first turned Toorak restaurant Lynch's into French bistro The Millswyn and whose restaurateurial son Davis then opened Claremont Tonic, Touche Hombre and Louie.

The Yu family bought the semi-complete French Renaissance-style mansion at 29-31 St Georges Road from the then Hoyts boss Leon Fink for $5 million in they depths of the 1991 downturn.

In 1992 there was a nine lot subdivision refusal for a Henshall Hansen-designed nine townhouse project. Not much has happened over the next 22 years, although Title Tattle notes an incomplete application was lodged earlier this month, but now awaits more details from Ausvest.

The last development application was in 2001 when Ausvest sought approval again to demolish the house to make way for a four-storey block with 37 apartments and 115 car spaces.

Since the $26 million application was rejected in 2001 by council, and then refused under appeal in 2003, the house has stood empty.

And Title Tattle suggests looking increasingly forlorn over the subsequent decade as Stonnington Council steadfastly opposes the over-intensification of the prestige site.

The two prior bulldozed houses were known as Cantala and Somerset.

It was then Hoyts chief Leon Fink, who consolidated the site in the late 1980s at a $6.4 million cost, then started the building that was described aiming to result in a $12 million, 19-room palace. But he sold before he could take occupancy.

The latest heritage drama involves 19 homes in the historic Toorak House precinct, so does actually include the properties at 29-31 St Georges Road in the proposed heritage overlay.

But Title Tattle notes the heritage preservation applies just to the front fencing, described as rustic stone walls, forming part of the extensive legacy of contributory original high masonry walls.

Not the corrugated iron fencing (pictured above) that Title Tattle snapped on a recent early morning walk. 

Demolition refusal, then 22 years neglect: another St Georges Road, Toorak property tale

And lastly Title Tattle sees Toorak House, the church and community centre at nearby 21 St Georges Road, is currently seeking minor internal alterations by Coleman Architects. Mostly sprucing up the 1850s mansion that has been owned by the Swedish Church of Melbourne since 1956.

Melbourne properties selling now:

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

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