Monday, January 4, 2016

Chinese investor DEMOLISHES historic $20 million mansion despite neighbours battling to save the 'beautiful' house

Chinese investor 

DEMOLISHES historic $20 million mansion 

despite neighbours battling to save the 'beautiful' house 


  • 16 St Georges Road in Toorak, south-east Melbourne has been partially demolished on Wednesday morning
  • It had last been sold in September 2013 for $18.5 million and is thought to be now worth around $20 million

  • The new owners, Chinese businessman Wang Hua and his wife Xiao ‘Kylie’ Yan Bao, applied to demolish in 2013
  • Stonnington council refused and heritage consultant Nigel Lewis determined the home had 'significant' importance

A historic mansion worth tens of millions has been demolished by a foreign investor, angering neighbours on the prestigious street.
The five-bedroom Toorak home, in south-east Melbourne, Victoria, complete with a library, conservatory, spa en-suite, tennis court and a swimming pool with change rooms is worth around $20 million.
But residents neighbouring the 16 St Georges Road property awoke on Wednesday morning to see the one acre, home built in 1913 partially bulldozed despite a desperate bid to have it heritage protected, Domain reports.
A historic mansion at 16 St Georges Street in Toorak, south-east Melbourne, has been suddenly demolished on Wednesday morning
A historic mansion at 16 St Georges Street in Toorak, south-east Melbourne, has been suddenly demolished on Wednesday morning
The property with tennis court is worth around $20 million, last sold in September 2013 for $18.5 million to a Chinese businessman
The property with tennis court is worth around $20 million, last sold in September 2013 for $18.5 million to a Chinese businessman
The property is perched on an acre, which is around 4,000 sqm. The new owners, Wang Hua and his wife Xiao ‘Kylie’ Yan Bao, had applied for a permit to demolish the property in December 2013
The property is perched on an acre, which is around 4,000 sqm. The new owners, Wang Hua and his wife Xiao ‘Kylie’ Yan Bao, had applied for a permit to demolish the property in December 2013
The five-bedroom home boasts a library, conservatory, spa ensuite, tennis court and a swimming pool with change rooms on the sprawling, prestigious lot
The five-bedroom home boasts a library, conservatory, spa ensuite, tennis court and a swimming pool with change rooms on the sprawling, prestigious lot
After the buyers had applied for a permit to demolish, the City of Stonnington council enlisted a heritage consulted Nigel Lewis to provide the 16 St Georges Road and neighbouring homes with heritage protection
After the buyers had applied for a permit to demolish, the City of Stonnington council enlisted a heritage consulted Nigel Lewis to provide the 16 St Georges Road and neighbouring homes with heritage protection
Angry neighbours awoke on Wednesday morning to find the stately home with heritage significance partially demolished
Angry neighbours awoke on Wednesday morning to find the stately home with heritage significance partially demolished
Stonnington council refused and heritage consultant Nigel Lewis determined the home had regional, state and architectural significance
Stonnington council refused and heritage consultant Nigel Lewis determined the home had regional, state and architectural significance

Mr Lewis found the area had 'regional and state historic and arcitectural significance', according to a report published in March 2014
Mr Lewis found the area had 'regional and state historic and arcitectural significance', according to a report published in March 2014
A 3AW listener named John rang radio host Neil Mitchell on Wednesday morning to air his disdain for the demolition of ‘one of the original beautiful homes along the street’
A 3AW listener named John rang radio host Neil Mitchell on Wednesday morning to air his disdain for the demolition of ‘one of the original beautiful homes along the street’
He said the ‘stately home’ had been vacant for many months, and had not been ‘cared for like St Georges Road is usually cared for’
He said the ‘stately home’ had been vacant for many months, and had not been ‘cared for like St Georges Road is usually cared for’
‘It’s not every day you see a property worth $20 million having a bulldozer taken to it,’ John said, confirming that the front portion had been demolished 
‘It’s not every day you see a property worth $20 million having a bulldozer taken to it,’ John said, confirming that the front portion had been demolished 
3AW listener named John rang radio host Neil Mitchell on Wednesday morning to air his disdain for the demolition of ‘one of the original beautiful homes along the street’. 
He said the ‘stately home’ had been vacant for many months, and had not been ‘cared for like St Georges Road is usually cared for’.
16 St Georges Rd has had its front portion demolished
16 St Georges Rd has had its front portion demolished
‘It’s not every day you see a property worth $20 million having a bulldozer taken to it,’ John said, confirming that the front portion had been demolished.
Domain reported that a passing motorist screamed from her car that the demolition was a ‘f***ing disgrace’.
A resident named Helen Elsworth, who has lived on neighbouring Orrong Road for 30 years, told the paper that locals feared apartments would be built on the block at 16 St Georges Road.
In a statement, City of Stonnington Mayor Cr Melina Sehr told Daily Mail Australia that the council 'requested both Heritage Victoria and the Heritage Council to apply an Interim Protection Order to the site because it believe that "the owner has an intent to demolish".
'Both of these requests were declined in March 2014.'
The council were therefore not able to refuse consent to the owners to demolish the property, Ms Sehr said, and a permit to demolish was provided on October 30, 2014.
'Council works hard to ensure that the heritage of Stonnington is protected. Council is disappointed that Heritage Victoria and the (then) Minister did not see fit to protect this property.'
Neighbours called the demolition a 'disgrace', after the Chinese businessman owner left the heritage home empty for months
Neighbours called the demolition a 'disgrace', after the Chinese businessman owner left the heritage home empty for months
Neighbouring residents awoke on Wednesday morning to see the front portion of the property being demolished, despite the council's findings
Neighbouring residents awoke on Wednesday morning to see the front portion of the property being demolished, despite the council's findings
Domain reported that a passing motorist screamed from her car that the demolition was a ‘f***ing disgrace' 
Domain reported that a passing motorist screamed from her car that the demolition was a ‘f***ing disgrace' 
A resident named Helen Elsworth, who has lived on neighbouring Orrong Road for 30 years, told Domain that locals feared apartments would be built on the block at 16 St Georges Road
A resident named Helen Elsworth, who has lived on neighbouring Orrong Road for 30 years, told Domain that locals feared apartments would be built on the block at 16 St Georges Road


One of China's wealthiest businessmen regularly flies into the country in a private plane carrying suitcases of cash.
Entrepreneur Wang Hua is China's 790th richest person, with a net worth of $400 million that the 54-year-old is seeking to sink into residential developments, wineries, timber companies, golf courses and luxury homes in Australia.
I am very rich, I have my private airplane, all my wealthy friends know I have bought a golf course in Melbourne... I cannot lose face. 
Mr Wang, a former People's Liberation Army Navy serviceman, is the mystery buyer who spent at least $20 million in September for the sprawling Toorak estate owned by Peter Devitt, the director of construction company LU Simon.

Sprawling: The property on St Georges Road in Toorak is one of Melbourne's finest trophy homes.
Sprawling: The property on St Georges Road in Toorak is one of Melbourne's finest trophy homes. Photo: Supplied
The sale of one of Melbourne's most expensive trophy homes took place after Mr Wang flew into the city on his personal jet, which he uses to shuttle between his adopted home and the Chinese operations of his conglomerate, Jeshing Group.
On these regular visits to Australia, Mr Wang reportedly brings in a suitcase full of US dollars that is deposited in a local branch of a mainland Chinese bank, according to allegations in court documents.
The claims were made by long-time acquaintance and business partner Guo Zhao ''Sunny'' Sun, who became embroiled in a Supreme Court battle with Mr Wang over control of the exclusive Heritage Golf and Country Club in Chirnside Park in early 2013.
Wang Hua has focused his taste for the opulent on a Toorak mansion.
Wang Hua has focused his taste for the opulent on a Toorak mansion.
''I told Mr Sun I wanted to have a business destination like Heritage to which I could bring associates from China to discuss business deals, and was thinking about buying the golf courses,'' Mr Wang said in an affidavit.
Mr Sun alleges that in September 2011 he was told to pick up $800,000 in cash to pay for a portion of Mr Wang's stake in the club.
''Mr Wang telephoned me and said that he had just arrived in Australia with cash and that I should immediately meet him at the Bank of China at Melbourne to collect the $A800,000 which he had changed from US dollars at the bank,'' Mr Sun said in an affidavit.
But the pending deal between the two went sour after a funding dispute and amid allegations that Mr Wang threatened to bankrupt the controlling company, Golden Heritage Golf Pty Ltd, and ''buy the assets cheaply''.
''I am very rich, I have my private airplane, all my wealthy friends know I have bought a golf course in Melbourne. I need real control of GHG, I cannot lose face,'' Mr Wang allegedly said to Mr Sun.
The legal proceedings were discontinued with the consent of all parties in June.
The golf course was only one of many investments Mr Wang has made - or considered making - in Australia since he and his wife, Xiao ''Kylie'' Yan Bao, received an Australian visa in 2001, according to court documents.
In 2003, Mr Wang and Mr Sun founded residential development company Kingsland Group, which has built small-scale townhouse and apartment developments in Melbourne.
Mr Wang's wife also bought a mansion on Irving Road, Toorak, for $3.4 million that year.
Mr Wang's Kingsland Timber has been mooted as a possible buyer of failed Tasmanian forestry company Gunns. He also owns a winery that exports to China.
Mr Wang's rags-to-riches story reportedly began in Jiangsu province in 1988, when he made a deal with a local factory owner to sell a truckload of goods within a week if they could split the profits.
Mr Wang's local Melbourne representative refused to pass on a list of questions from Fairfax Media to his employer.
''Mr Wang does not want the media to expose his information like this,'' he said. ''Just be careful. That is not a threat.''
Mr Wang declined to comment when reached on his Chinese mobile phone.
business partner Sunny Sun