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Bucket List’s Bubble Likely to Burst with Pavilion Restoration

By Billy Mackenzie on October 26, 2018 in News

Ye olde Bucket List in front of Bondi Pavilion back in 1930, by James Scullin

For years the Bondi Pavilion has been in desperate need of significant repairs and upgrades. Now, thanks to Waverley Council’s extensive Bondi Pavilion Restoration and Conservation Project, we are finally going to see this work commence.

But it has come at a cost.

While there is much to like about designs for the estimated $25 million makeover, the Pavilion’s restoration will be to the detriment of one Bondi’s favourite watering holes, The Bucket List. The suggested floor plan reduces the tenancy space occupied by The Bucket List by at least two-thirds.

Furthermore, Council intends to remove the entire ‘glass bubble’ section of the venue, known as the Fish Bowl Bar. In losing the Fish Bowl and its panoramic view of the beach, The Bucket List will effectively be losing its main enticement.

The Bucket List claims the pro- posed reduction will make it “near impossible” to operate and cater to its patrons.

According to the plans available on Council’s website, nothing will be replacing the Fish Bowl. Rather, the section will be removed on advice from the NSW Heritage Of- fice, which has called it “intrusive”.

A spokesperson for Waverley Council told The Beast that the concept design for the Pavilion is guided by the Bondi Pavilion Conservation Management Plan. They explained the key features of this concept include restoring and conserving the iconic beachfront façade and removing intrusive heritage elements, including the ‘glass bubble’.

The spokesperson told The Beast that Council was advised by the NSW Heritage Office that including the bubble in the plan would mean the design would not be sup- ported when Council submitted its development application. Council requires the approval of the NSW Heritage Office to undertake the restoration.

Since opening in 2011, The Bucket List has been a popular hang for locals and tourists alike. Owner Andy Ruwald is desperate to see the venue remain open, but says they need more space to keep the business operating.

“I have watched The Bucket List bring the Pavilion back to life over the last seven years and would do anything to ensure its continued survival and success,” Mr Ruwald told The Beast.

“Unfortunately, though, this isn’t possible with the current plans.”

Mr Ruwald said The Bucket List had received fantastic support since the proposed designs were released.

“The Bucket List is loved by the community. The Fish Bowl has been a wonderful part of The Bucket List for years and a current iconic landmark itself. We don’t want to lose it and like many others, think it would be great if there was a way to keep it.”

“I really hope that common sense prevails and that we can work with Council to get this right. It’s more about sufficient tenancy space, and I know we have a lot of people behind us on that.”
Despite the significant reduction in available space, Council has said it supports the continuation of viable commercial tenancies at the Pavilion.

Commercial tenancies will be put to tender at the completion of the project, and existing tenants will be invited to reapply for a tenancy.

Waverley Mayor John Wakefield told The Beast that The Bucket List’s lease is about to expire and that if the refurbishment were not being prepared, it would have to go out for competitive tender anyway.

“There was no guarantee that the current operators, as good as they are, would have won this tender,” Cr Wakefield said.

“As it stands, the refurbishment project gives The Bucket List more time to prepare for the changes to come.”

Mr Ruwald told The Beast that although this was true, considering they had created something that is so good for Bondi, he was hopeful The Bucket List would be first in line for the tender.

Tender ownership aside, Cr Wakefield said he was working to ensure the new designs configure retail space at the front of the Pavilion sufficiently sized to enable a large footprint/restaurant tenancy.

“I’ve argued since the beginning of the process that we need two large anchor tenancies to ensure the viability of the commercial offerings in the Pavilion,” he said.
Mr Ruwald said that he was grateful for the mayor’s support on this matter.

Public consultation on the designs closed on October 5. A spokesperson for Council told The Beast that results of the community feedback would be collected and presented in a report to Council in the weeks following this date.