(Historic?) Manly Mansion Up for Sale
A prominent 1930-built Manly mansion - ‘Casa Mia’ - has listed with $4.2m hopes. The current owner, Queensland-based plastic surgeon Dr Mark McGovern, purchased the waterfront abode in June 2007 for $5.65m, a large amount for what became an apartment block after subdivision in the 1970s. McGovern proceeded to submit controversial plans to the Manly Council to demolish Casa Mia and develop a block of three flats with a construction value of $4.5m (putting McGovern in at over $10m, a hard sum to gain back based on apartment comps in the area). Local residents, of course, flipped out, claiming the home had significant architectural significance. McGovern retorted:
I would like to reiterate that Council decided NOT to proceed with heritage listing on the basis of its own independent advice that the house had NO heritage merit. Whilst built circa 1929, extensive renovations and extensions occurred during the 1950’s and again in the 70’s, resulting in little of the original fabric remaining, particularly since subdivision of the single house into first five and later four flats. Come on, guys! This is a rather ugly pink block of flats which you are eulogizing! If you looked harder at the subject matter, it would be appreciated! In particular, the “architectural and aesthetic mediocrity which will replace it” has very considerable merit!!!
So many [sic]s, it’s not even worth tracking them. McGovern’s sentiments are surprising given he’s a plastic surgeon: doesn’t he notice that the exterior is virtually identical to its origins? And isn’t the edifice the most significant feature for NIMBYs and Councils alike?
A bit about Casa Mia’s history. It was designed and built in 1930 by Lewis Kaberry, a prominent architect of theaters and private homes in the “Hollywood” or “Spanish Mission” style fast gaining prominence in Sydney in the inter-war years. Kaberry designed at least one other home in the ‘Oyama estate’, the 1925 ‘Casa del Mar’. Most homes in this ritzy enclave of Manly housed the relocating country fortunes of several farming families, including Casa Mia’s original owners, the Edwards family. Also to note according to a 2005 Heritage Assessment, “Casa Mia benefited from this infilling prior to the Great War that helped create the almost rectangular block approximately 47’ x 188’, or 822 square metres. At the time of the Oyama subdivision, Manly Council reserved an easement marked “Drainage Reserve and Access to Water”, ten feet wide, between Oyama Avenue and the high water mark. This easement and water access-way is still accessible via new concrete steps from Oyama Avenue, to the east of Casa Mia. However, portion of the easement has been encroached upon by the lawns of Casa Mia and a sea-wall constructed that blocks water access and obscures original stone steps down to the water.”
That same 2005 heritage assessment led to Manly Council placing the building on the Heritage List, a ruling that was (suspiciously?) overturned in 2007, just prior to the home’s $5.65m sale to Dr Mark McGovern. Someone was doing some seriously lobbying in Manly a few years back!
3 Oyama Avenue is listed with Vince Donovan of Donovan Prestige. And, The Radical’s take is that the home will indeed be more valuable as three “penthouse-style” apartments, but most of that value is under the assumption that the mansion’s unique architectural pedigree remains in place.