The old Wagga Wagga Ambulance Station will be returned to the community after Wagga Wagga City Council recently announced it had reached an agreement with the NSW Government.
The Johnson Street premises was paid for by the local community more than 90 years ago and then gifted to the NSW Ambulance Service, according Wagga Wagga Mayor Dallas Tout.
The station has been sitting empty since the opening of a new ambulance station in 2016 and the campaign to return the facility to the community was launched in July last year by former Mayor Greg Conkey.
The council initially hoped for the return of the building to the local community for a “peppercorn fee”, according to director of Regional Activation Michael Keys. While the NSW Government indicated it was valued at $1.2 million it is not yet clear what price the two parties eventually settled on.
Mr Keys said the council is eager to transform the historic building into a business and creative industry hub.
“It could be a mix of local business support, business events venue, but it would also build on and facilitate further development of the cultural and creative arts industry here in Wagga Wagga and surrounds,” Mr Keys said.
“It is an important asset and Council is pleased to be able take stewardship of that connection to our city’s history and give this heritage building in the heart of our city a new lease on life by using it for community and not-for-profit purposes.”
Mr Keys said that the council is planning to go to market shortly and they’ll call for expressions of interest to occupy and use the premises. The initial offering will be for a 12-month trial.
He admitted that the building “does need a little bit of work” including painting on the lower level, carpet installation and safety upgrades. However, he believes the site isn’t far off reactivation claiming “the bare bones and fabric of the building are a testament to the way it was constructed”.
Cr Tout said not only does the building have heritage and architectural significance, it also has a significant connection to the local community.
“It is wonderful to see it in a sense returning to the community and I look forward to seeing the visions for this building’s future become a reality,” he said.
Member for Wagga Wagga Dr Joe McGirr supported the vision to transform the historic building into a business and creative industry hub and echoed Mayor Tout’s sentiment that it is “wonderful to see this historic building back in the hands of the community”.
Expressions of interest will be taken from Wednesday 23 March to Thursday 14 April and interested parties should keep an eye on the council website for updates. The council plans to begin work on the building and make it ready for occupation in the meantime.