The historic building of the Pontian Community of Melbourne was sold for $3.35 million.
The sale actually took place last November with most members informed by telephone but the sale was only made public yesterday by Apostolos Alexiadis, the President of the Pontian Community.
Following the announcement, members of the Community contacted Neos Kosmos complaining that “we are in the dark” and that “there are rumours”.
Speaking to Neos Kosmos, Alexiadis said that “There is nothing secret and everything is at the disposal of every interested member.”
“The building was sold for $3,350,000 plus GST which, of course, was returned to the government,” he explained.
“Of that, $3,250,000 will be deposited in a closed bank account for three months, every quarter. The reason we delayed informing members is that we were looking for a new building. So far, we have not found one. The members will be invited to a general meeting in April, they will be thoroughly informed and all their questions will be answered”.
In a statement to Neos Kosmos, member Vassilis Xanthopoulos complained about the lack of transparency.
“They have kept us in the dark for months,” he stressed, adding that “I, as a member, have not been informed if the building was sold, for how much, and where the money is. I don’t even know if the community is operating and where. My children and grandchildren were learning Pontian dances in the community. Are the dance groups taking place? Where? Unfortunately, many members have also been written off,” said Mr Xanthopoulos.
It is worth mentioning that the building in Brunswick has hosted hundreds of cultural, recreational and educational events of the Greek and Pontian communities over the past decades.
According to Alexiadis, the decision to sell the property was made during a General Meeting held by community members for two main reasons:
“The property,” Mr. Alexiadis told Neos Kosmos “needed a complete renovation. We asked for quotes and were told that half a million dollars was required to renovate it. At the same time the building’s fixed annual expenses amounted to $30,000. We have no income so we chose to sell it.”
Alexiadis was adamant that the Pontian Community does not owe any money and is seeking to purchase another building with the amount received.
“Preferably to have a shop that can be rented to bring us permanent income,” he said, explaining that, due to the pandemic, the community had not been operating.
“The coronavirus hit everyone and everything. It only had expenses” he said, but admitted that a COVID related sponsorship from the government “was a lifesaver”.