BENALLA’S former post office is set to be turned into offices with the city’s council moving to compulsorily acquire the two-storey building.
The council will move 44 of its staff into the site on the corner of Mair and Bridge streets as part of a shake-up that will see the city vacate its existing Civic Centre in Fawckner Drive.
Benalla Rural City Council chief executive Tony McIlroy said the council had the right under Victorian Government legislation to compulsorily acquire the building from Australia Post, which moved its shopfront to Bridge Street two years ago.
He declined to say how much the council would pay for the premises but said Australia Post would be entitled to a 10 per cent premium on the price.
The building, which the council expects to own by the end of the year, will be gutted and refurbished before customer relations, finance, economic development, tourism and community development staff move in.
A Victorian Government grant of $1 million will be spent on renovating the former post office built in the late 1960s.
At the same time, the council is preparing to move its mayor and executive staff into the former Benalla shire offices, 50 metres north of the old post office in Mair Street.
The council has received $144,000 from Heritage Victoria to restore the offices that were built in 1958.
They will again host council meetings with Mr McIlroy saying the first gathering was likely to be in July 2013.
The relocation of the library from Benalla’s Nunn Street to the existing Civic Centre will be the final step in the series of moves.
The Federal Government has contributed $1.2 million towards the project, which will see the library become known as the Sir Edward Weary Dunlop Learning Centre.
Mr McIlroy said consideration had been given to extending the Civic Centre, opened in 1972, but it was deemed impossible due to the cost of expanding on the flood plain of the Broken River.
“It’s a case of finding the best place at the most affordable rate and to be able to use three existing buildings rather than build new infrastructure made sense,” he said.