Rising from the ashes – Knight’s Garage to be rebuilt


Rising from the ashes – Knight’s Garage to be rebuilt

Welcome news: Kathy Smith of adjacent business Kelvins Bedding was pleased to hear the former Knight’s Garage is about to be rebuilt.

THE news just keeps getting better for Leongatha with the announcement Knight’s Garage in Bair Street will be rebuilt.

Owner Tony Westaway confirmed with The Star work is expected to start mid-year on a rebuild of the historic garage.

“The original facade of the building will be retained. I think this adds to the character of the building and being set back from the street has its advantages also.”

The total value of the project once completed will be in the vicinity of $1.3 million.

Investment into Leongatha is flowing in at a fast rate with Considine and Johnston having begun work on the new Salvation Army headquarters. Added to that are recent announcements about a new Holden dealership and Aldi Supermarket and the town seems to be booming at the present.

The VCAT hearings into the Bair Street site for the CFA are currently on (see story inside) and Leongatha traders and CFA personnel will be keen to see which way this decision will go.

Most traders feel that a CFA fire station in the CBD will be of detriment to future development of the retail sector. From the CFA’s point of view, there are limited options in town and they felt the position was no barrier to it being refused.

Tony Westaway said a local builder will be used in the Knight’s Garage project.

“I am actually just going through the quotes at the moment and will hopefully confirm soon which builder will get the construction job,” he said.

The new building will house two shops, a large one at the front and a smaller one at the rear. A new feature at the rear will be a courtyard space suitable for a cafe.

For some time now Bair Street has looked unattractive at the southern end with a number of empty shops but with the Knight’s Garage set to be re-developed, this could further stimulate other projects.

Mr Westaway told The Star he didn’t have any firm tenants at this stage.

“Over the past couple of years we have had enquiries but until people can see what they’re getting it is very hard for them to commit,” he said.

The garage, which formerly housed the Henriettas home wares and cafe store, was tragically burnt to the ground in May, 2010, retaining only the historic facade.

Mr Westaway said it was important the original facade of the Knight’s Garage building be retained.

When Alan and Meg Steenholdt moved into the Knights garage to open Henriettas in August 2002, it was the first time the building hadn’t housed a motor garage or car dealership since built by Mr Vin Knight in 1932.

Tony Westaway is the grandson of Vin Knight so the building has huge sentimental value.

“Mum (Vin Knight’s daughter Vivian Westaway) is really happy with what we have planned.”

Neighbouring businessperson, Kathy Smith from Kelvin’s Bedding, was also excited about the announcement.

Their business lost 90 per cent of stock and ceased trading for 6 months due to the fire.

“The fire cost us a fortune in lost stock and trade; we also kept staff on at this difficult time as well,” she said.

“Henriettas brought a lot of traffic to us up this end of Bair Street so hopefully we can see some new businesses thrive in the new building.”

Mrs Smith is also on the executive of the Leongatha Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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Posted by on May 7 2013. Filed under Business, Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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