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15 September 2022


BUILDING IMPROVEMENTS AT MASONIC CENTRES ACROSS VICTORIA

The first round of substantial improvements at Masonic Centre across Victoria are being announced.

Acting Grand Master, RWBro. Anthony Bucca has congratulated the members of the Commercial Council, the Property Committee, and the Finance, Risk and Audit Committee, on their initiative in providing the funds and organising works in the first of an ongoing series of property improvements.

The first round of improvements are to take place at Williamstown, Walhalla, Essendon, Wodonga, Geelong, Mornington and Werribee. Further works at other centres will be announced in due course.

At Williamstown, structural integrity of the building is a major concern and underpinning of the building is urgent. The Commercial Council has approved $90,000 and the Williamstown Masonic Centre Association is contributing $40,000 towards the project. Work is expected to commence in October.

At Walhalla, the building roof and external timber cladding of this heritage-listed building require urgent attention. The Commercial Council noted that quotations had been called to replace the corrugated iron roof and associated timber work. The Commercial Council approved the engagement of a Heritage Consultant for the provision of Heritage Guidelines to ensure the proposed work is in line with the requirements of Baw Baw Shire Council and Heritage Victoria.

At Essendon, structural integrity is a major concern, and the works are urgent. The Commercial Council supported a budget estimate of approximately $300,000 (subject to quotations being received and approved) for the demolition of the existing kitchen and WC annexed to the original building, and replacement of some to include a new kitchen, new appliances, and a disabled WC. This work will commence as soon as possible.

At Wodonga, the existing centre has passed its use by date, and a more modern fit-for-purpose facility is now required. The Commercial Council noted the initial positive discussions with Wodonga Council for a multi-level building with offices and shops plus car parking and a Masonic Centre. Architectural and Town Planning services tenders have been received and are under consideration.

At Geelong, coupled with past structural integrity and water ingress issues, the existing Centre has passed its use by date and a larger and more modern, fit-for-purpose facility in Victoria's second largest city is urgently required. The Commercial Council approved a high-level feasibility study as soon as possible, with the appointment of MGS (architects) and Tract (town planners) to commence Stage 1 as soon as possible. Stage 1 comprises discussions with Council to ascertain whether a commercial redevelopment of the property can be undertaken.

At Mornington, there is need to finish refurbishment works that commenced during the past financial year. The Commercial Council has approved $10,000 to complete refurbishment works at Mornington. Installation of a disabled WC is under consideration.

At Werribee, this heritage-listed building needs urgent preventative maintenance and a refurbishment of the banquet hall (South), kitchen and installation of a disabled WC. The Commercial Council noted that, as part of the urgent preventative maintenance program, other development opportunities on the site will be considered, such as the development of a medical centre or similar use. Initial discussions are being held with Wyndham City Council and a Heritage Consultant.

Other high priority projects under consideration by the Property Committee for recommendation to the Commercial Council include, in the short-term – East Melbourne and Sorrento, and in the medium-term – Werribee, Melton and Sunshine.

RWBro. Bucca said that the Commercial Council had approved the establishment of a Building Sinking Fund to provide for ongoing maintenance and capital improvement projects associated with Masonic buildings. The Fund will be established initially with the proceeds from the sale of the Ascot Vale building, with proceeds from the additional sales of buildings to be added to the Fund. It will be managed by JB Were as the appointed investment managers for Freemasons Victoria to build a corpus over the years that is capable of self-funding ongoing maintenance and repairs.

The Acting Grand Master said that the Building Sinking Fund will hold a minimum of 20 per cent in cash for emergency requirements with the ability to draw down other funds on instruction and as required. It will exclude maintenance, repairs, or improvements for East Melbourne, Bayside and Box Hill – all of which should be self-funding. It can be used on works approved by the Commercial Council on the recommendation of the Property Committee, and Finance Risk and Audit Committee.

The Commercial Council comprises VWBro. Felix Pintado (Chair), RWBro. Trevor Somerville (Deputy Chair), VWBro. Matteo Donato, Mr George Donikian (Independent), Mr David Mandel (Independent) and Mr David Mann (Independent).

The Property Committee comprises VWBro. Steve Simpson (Committee Chair), WBro. Anton Alers, Bro. Andrew Baird, VWBro. Chris Dzanovski, WBro. Kevin Holden, WBro. Milton Mann, Bro. Rob Coslovich and RWBro. Trevor Somerville (ex-officio, Commercial Council representative).

The Finance, Risk and Audit Committee comprises: VWBro. Robert Brennand (Committee Chair). RWBro. Craig Head, RWBro. Garry James, WBro. John Blyth, Bro. Larry Jackson, WBro. Rhys Watson, Mr David Mandel (ex-officio, Commercial Council representative) and Mr Chau Lin Lau (Observer).

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