The Ritz Flats
Probably not notable but more notorious, the Ritz Flats on the corner of Bellerine and Corio Streets have become one of the city’s most controversial buildings and an eyesore. The Ritz was once one of our city’s grandest hotels and dates back to the 1860’s.
First known as the Belle-vue Hotel and later the Bay View Temperance Hotel, the building received some modifications and major renovations during the late 1890’s. From some information we received from the National Library of Australia the building was also known as the Ozone Hotel around the 1940’s and later the Ozone Coffee Palace. Later in its life the building was used as a boarding house and was last known as the Ritz Flats some time between the mid to late 1970’s.
The building has sat in disrepair for close to forty years, there has been many concepts for redevelopment from wine bars, night spots to apartments but to date nothing has eventuated.
The Ritz was one subject of a 2013 report by the National Trust called Demolition by Neglect. The trust believes many neglected heritage buildings like the Ritz are owned by developers that would like to see them pulled down. Various planning permits have been applied for dating back to 1984 that the trust views as a stalling tactic. While the plans for development drags on for decades slowly the building deteriorates due to time, vandalism and the elements.
Currently a planning permit is in place to build a five story apartment complex that retains the heritage facade that dates back to 2006. The permit has been extended several times and works must start before December 2014. In mid-2014 the building was put up for sale and at the time of writing was still on the market.
Time will see what the future holds for this once majestic icon of our city, whether it will be renovated to reveal its true charm and beauty or whether it will see the fate of the wrecking ball.