TERANG’S historic Johnstone Court shopping arcade is on the market.
The heritage-listed building, which faces High Street and features an internal arcade, has sat empty for the past two years and local residents are hopeful a potential sale will restore the building to its former glory.
The 2466-square-metre building is on the market for offers over $950,000. There are nine retail spaces — five facing High Street under a cantilevered verandah and four facing the internal arcade. There is also a large three-bedroom residence and a smaller outbuilding included.
The court was built in 1925 by Winifred Lilian Johnstone. It was described at the time as the largest block of shops and the most up-to-date business premises in the Western District.
It housed the local office of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria and a grocer, a baker, a draper, a jeweller and an estate agent occupied the other shops.
The arcade’s current owner, a Gippsland-based investor, bought the property five years ago but little work has been done to restore the building since.
In 2013 access to the arcade was closed after tenants reported pieces of plaster and metal falling from the elaborate glass dome roof and a Corangamite Shire building surveyor declared it unsafe to the public. It cut access to two businesses in the arcade, which have since moved. Only one of the arcade’s retail spaces, fronting High Street, is occupied.
Selling agent Gary Ralph, from Melbourne agency O’Brien Real Estate, said Heritage Victoria approved works on the glass dome were expected to be completed in May and he hoped it would make the property more attractive to investors.
“The works have cost the owner about $80,000. There is still a lot of work to be done on the rest of the building but there has already been some strong interest and we’ve spoken to some local investors,” Mr Ralph said.
“There is a huge amount of potential in the building and I understand there is a demand for retail space in Terang.”
Terang Progress Association president Michael Reicha has fond memories of the arcade being a bustling shopping hub when he was a child. He said the association hoped a new owner could inject new life into the building.
“It’s one of the most iconic and prominent buildings in our main street, so to have it sitting there empty isn’t an ideal situation, it sort of takes away from the look of the street a bit,” he said.
“If it was all up and running again and the shops were full it would be terrific. We as a group are more than happy to offer any assistance we can to make it happen.”