Supporters of Sydney’s iconic Sirius building have lost their fight to stop the sale of the social housing block but they say the battle isn’t over.
The brutalist building next to the Harbour Bridge – which has been used for social housing for more than 30 years – is being sold to developers who are expected to replace it with hundreds of private apartments, despite fierce opposition from community groups.
A 91-year-old legally blind woman, Myra Demetriou, who’s the last resident to leave the building after a decade, confronted Social Housing Minister Pru Goward on Thursday, saying the government had become “greedy”.
“They want to sell us off too,” she said.
Mrs Demetriou will move to a new home in coming days after FACS found her a place she could physically access. The building’s other residents have already been relocated.
Suffering from macular degeneration, Mrs Demetriou can no longer properly see faces.
“I’m legally blind, my knees don’t work, I can’t climb steps, just ridiculous – the thought of packing up and moving horrifies me,” she told reporters.
Ms Goward noted 60,000 people were on NSW’s social housing waiting list, with proceeds from Sirius being used to build more social housing around the state.
The Sirius building sell-off is part of the state government’s plan to sell 300 state-owned properties in prime locations across Sydney, including 240 properties in nearby Millers Point, to raise up to $500 million.
Save our Sirius foundation chairman Shaun Carter says the fight to save the building is not about money and if the government is serious about raising the funds it wouldn’t spend $2.5 billion on redoing “very young stadiums”.
“Stay Sirius, maintain the rage, as we will have an exciting announcement to make soon!” the group posted on Twitter.
The building’s architect, Tao Gofers, says if Sirius is demolished, the government will face many upset people.
“It’s become more important now than it was when it was designed … it represents what the community can do when politicians forget the people,” Mr Gofers, now in his 70s, told AAP.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, who also wanted the building to remain as social housing, is disappointed by the sale.
“Sydney will be poorer if our city area becomes an enclave reserved for the wealthy,” she said in a statement to AAP on Thursday.
The NSW government has also dismissed concerns from architectural groups over the building’s heritage significance.
It follow’s the government’s October decision to refuse for the second time to place the building on the state heritage list, the same month it was added to the World Monuments Fund’s 2018 watch list.