The Renmark community is split on whether to demolish an 83-year-old former bank building overlooking the Murray River, as the local council attempts to revitalise the town centre.

Key points:

  • The public is divided on whether the building is “ugly” or has “beautiful architecture”
  • Council wants an interested party to upgrade or demolish the building
  • Regardless, almost everyone wants the council to retain ownership of the land

Renmark Paringa Council will head to the open market to find a new purpose for the land occupied by the art-deco building, which was vacated by long-term tenant Westpac in December.

At the end of its lease, the banking giant paid the council $80,000 after the building fell into a state of needing significant repair.

The council has spent part of the repair payment to make necessary safety improvements, but the future of the site remains unclear.

Bird house or beautiful architecture?

On Tuesday night, elected members voted to incorporate the results of a public consultation survey into a new expression of interest (EOI) document for a new tenant or operator.

The survey showed a majority of respondents were in favour of demolishing the building, but there were still a number of responses in favour of renovating it instead.

The building has views of the Murray River which council hopes it can exploit.(ABC Riverland: Sam Bradbrook)

Respondents were also split on the building’s aesthetic, with some submissions describing it as “ugly” and a “birdhouse”, while others said its “beautiful architecture” complemented the rest of the town.

Almost all submissions were in favour of the site staying in public hands.

Council backs demolition

Council corporate and community services director Tim Pfeiffer said the council preferred to see an interested party undertake any upgrade or demolition works on the building but that it would retain ownership of the land.

“We’ll go out to the initial phase of the EOI and see whether there is in fact anyone out there who’s interested in doing anything,” he said.

“That will come back to council for council to ultimately make a decision, and at that point, if there is something that’s really interesting, we’d probably try and negotiate a deal where it would be the proponent that would do the demolition as opposed to council.

“Having that empty site there, it’s not a great look; we want to make sure we’re doing the right thing by our community and the right thing for our town.”


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