One of Albury's most iconic, heritage-listed buildings is set to begin a mysterious next chapter led by two Border businesswomen.
Tamara Morey and Tanya Higgins purchased the historic Kia Ora building on Townsend Street and plan to open it to the public within the next 12 months, but have not revealed their business model.
"We don't want to say specifically what's going to happen in here, but it's going to be something that communities will love, families will love and [it will be] great for the business of Albury," Ms Higgins said.
Ms Higgins said the historical society and Albury Council were excited to see the building re-open after it had been shut up for long time.
"It's about breathing that life back into it, giving it a soul again," Ms Higgins said.
The duo gave scant clues to the new purpose of the building, but said it would celebrate its heritage.
"Something like this is so special," Ms Morey said. "We want to keep it well preserved, let the locals enjoy it and share in it.
"We want to make sure it's being used in the right way.
"It's certainly going to be opened back up to the public, which is something that is really important to us."
Ms Higgins said the pair love the history of the building.
"The outside appearance isn't going to change, it's all heritage-listed," she said.
"We want it to feel like you're walking into an old bank just for a moment, until the curtain moves and it's something completely different.
"We want to keep a bit of the mystery of the building."
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Ms Morey and Ms Higgins said they first became friends about 10 years ago when they were working in the financial industry.
"We met there, got on like a house on fire...and one thing led to another," Ms Morey said.
They said they'd been watching the building come on and off the market for about five years.
"When it came up again we sort of thought...well let's go, let's try bidding, let's try purchasing this place," Ms Higgins said.
"We ended up being successful and beyond that we could see not only great business, but just to be attached to something so iconic in our hometown meant something really important to us."
Ms Morey said the pair want others to experience the beauty of the building
"We're in love with the building and how beautiful it is and we want to be able to share that with Albury people and people from all around," Ms Morey said.
Ms Higgins said the building was in good condition, despite its long and varied history.
"Only about 30 or 40 years after it was a first built a huge fire came through and gutted the whole thing, except for the strong room," Ms Higgins said.
"Over the years it's been refurbished and it's been taken back to more of a commercial use when it was used by the local hospital.
"Then back in the 80's or 90's it was bought back to be a residential home again.
"So some of the work is quite new, but certainly reflective of an old era...there's still some work for us to do to get it to where we want it.
It's just a process at the moment of getting through council, getting builders on board, all that sort of thing takes time...but hopefully between nine to 12 months the doors will open."
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