CITY of Sydney councillors have criticised plans to sell an iconic Darlinghurst building that was once slated as a location to create a LGBTI historical museum.
At a council meeting on Monday night, councillors were asked to vote on whether to put out an Expression of Interest (EOI) for parties wanting to buy the T2 building in Taylor Square. The iconic pink and blue striped building on Flinders St was shut down in 2009 after being a source of violence and anti-social behaviour in the area.
City of Sydney bought the building and Lord Mayor Clover Moore had intended to turn it into a cycling hub, but decided not to go ahead with the plan due to an exponential growth in Sydney’s cycling culture.
Council said it could not have foreseen that growth at the time of the acquisition of the building and therefore the cycling hub was no longer needed the council’s “direct involvement”.
Labor councillor Linda Scott and Liberal councillor Christine Forster had wanted the building to be turned into a LGBTI or Mardi Gras museum to help revive Oxford St. They expressed disappointment the building could go to the highest bidder.
Forster said Lord Mayor Clover Moore has wasted “millions of ratepayer dollars” on her “ideological obsession” for turning the T2 building into a cycling hub and has now been forced into “an embarrassing backflip”.
“The interest council could have earned on the $7.1 million paid for the building six years ago is roughly $1.7 million and another $1.2 million has been spent doing nothing more than maintaining it in a state of disrepair,” Forster said.
She said she voted in favour the EOI so the building could be put “to a useful, economic purpose for the benefit of the community”.
“We gave wasted millions of dollars on the building already and put it to no good purpose,” Forster said.
“I’d like to see it put to a good commercial or community use. I love the idea of a post office, which would generate a lot of foot traffic to the area.
“I have been urging council for years to fund a Mardi Gras museum, but the Lord Mayor has flatly refused. We have many properties on Oxford St which would be fantastic for a Mardi Gras museum, and council should be pursuing the idea.”
Scott was the only councillor who voted against the proposed sale of the T2 building, expressing concern it would lead to a return to being a source of violence and mayhem for the area.
“Prior to the city purchasing the T2 building at Taylor Square, the area was dangerous and frankly, in the heart of our city’s LGBTIQ district, a global embarrassment,” she said.
“The T2 building offers a once in a generation opportunity to build a LGBTIQ museum to tell the stories of our community. In supporting its sale to the highest bidder, Lord Mayor Moore, the Greens, and Liberals are denying our community an LGBTIQ museum.”
— Linda Scott (@ClrLindaScott) February 29, 2016
According to Scott, the T2 building was a “perfect” opportunity for City of Sydney to create an LGBTI museum.
“Sydney’s LGBTIQ community deserves a cultural space to celebrate and remember their history – the T2 building is the best opportunity the Council has to support the creation of a museum to preserve this rich history,” she said.
“With the rainbow flag flying proudly over Taylor Square, a LGBTIQ museum or cultural space can be a major drawcard for visitors to Sydney and invigorate interest in the history of Mardi Gras and the struggle for LGBTIQ rights.”
“To sell the T2 building to the highest bidder is a lost opportunity to reactivate Taylor Square. Instead, we risk returning this area to the dark and dangerous area it once was.”
Star Observer contacted Lord Mayor Clover Moore’s office for a response, but did not receive one by deadline.
The EOI for the T2 building will return to City of Sydney for further debate at a future council meeting.