Idylwilde, the historic 1913 Edwardian villa, aka Ulva

16 St Georges Road TOORAK


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Toorak residents furious as developer begins demolition of $18.5m mansion


external image Emily-Power-headshot-150x150.jpgOct 21, 2015 Emily Power Prestige reporter

$18.5 million mansion destroyed


A historic mansion is torn down in Toorak. Video by Emily Power and Kirsten Robb.



Toorak residents are furious that the owner of a landmark local mansion has begun tearing down the house after a failed heritage protection bid.
The front portion of Idylwilde at 16 St Georges Road, sold to Xiaoyan “Kylie” Bao for $18.5 million in September 2013, has been ripped open, with the ornate interior of the property exposed to the street.
16 St Georges Road, Toorak
16 St Georges Road, Toorak

  • Built in 1913, the Queen Anne-style estate was marketed for sale as a “home for the generations” and “a rare and beautiful piece of Australian real estate”, but it took Ms Bao just two months to apply to council for a permit to knock it down.
  • The move prompted the City of Stonnington to apply last year to then-planning minister Matthew Guy for interim heritage controls, with the support of Toorak residents.
  • The property, while much loved by locals and iconic to the suburb, was deemed to not be of “sufficient architectural significance” for Mr Guy to step in and grant heritage protection.
The shell of the Queen Anne home with work equipment left idle.
The shell of the Queen Anne home with work equipment left idle.

Photo: Eddie Jim
The minister rejected a bid by council in May last year based on advice from Heritage Victoria, the planning department said in a statement.
An application to both Heritage Victoria and the Heritage Council, temporarily halted demolition works but was also declined.
Stonnington mayor Melina Sehr said that under the law, the council could not refuse the homeowner’s consent for demolition.
Crews tear down the 102-year-old mansion.
Crews tear down the 102-year-old mansion.

Photo: Eddie Jim
  • “Council works hard to ensure that the heritage of Stonnington is protected,” Cr Sehr said.
  • “Council is disappointed that Heritage Victoria and the (then) Minister did not see fit to protect this property.”
  • Ms Bao is the wife of Chinese billionaire-turned-Australian investor Wang Hua and is herself the owner of the Heritage Golf and Country Club in Chirnside Park, which The Age reported in March she took control of in a separation arrangement with her husband.
Eddie Young, Toorak Residents Action Group president, says locals are upset at the demolition.
Eddie Young, Toorak Residents Action Group president, says locals are upset at the demolition.

.Photo: Eddie Jim
  • An excavator, surrounded by rubble of bricks and wooden beams, continued to raze the home, ripping down the roof on Wednesday as distressed locals watched on.
  • An irate neighbour – who did not wish to be identified – attempted to stop the works, approaching the site manager to complain.
  • A motorist slowed her car to scream “it’s a f—ing disgrace” as she drove past the wreckage on one of Melbourne’s most exclusive streets.
Demolished: 16 St Georges Road.
Demolished: 16 St Georges Road.

Photo: Eddie Jim
Toorak resident Dr Ann Singer was visibly shaken as she paused to watch the excavator gouge the old home.
  • Dr Singer described the property as a “real treasure” of Toorak.
  • “And to just come out one day and see it knocked down is tragic, just absolutely tragic,” she said.
  • “They don’t care … they just wipe out a home that was absolutely beautiful. Why is this house being destroyed? We have lived in this area for 30 years and to see this is absolutely stunning, just heartbreaking.”

Eddie Young, president of Toorak Village Residents Action Group, said Idylwilde was a standout home on the street.
  • “It is not a historically valuable home, but is aesthetically a wonderful-looking home that is similar to those of which we would like to retain in Toorak,” he said.
  • “To see it go down is disappointing.
  • “The main concern, from my members, some of whom are St Georges Road residents, is that you often find – and it is subjective – that grotesque buildings take their place.

“New zoning to a large extent has prevented the building of the sort of monoliths we have seen in the past, but there is no restriction on design.
  • “There will be angst when anything like this happens, because it has been happening. You only have to look around St Georges Road, and if you know the history of what has gone down, this is just another one.”
  • Local homeowner Helen Elsworth, who has lived in neighbouring Orrong Road for 30 years, said the demolition was “shocking” and the home’s former owners would be devastated.

“I thought it was the most beautiful house I had ever seen,” Ms Elsworth said.
  • She said fellow residents were concerned that apartments will be built in its place.
  • Ms Elsworth said locals were saddened when the former Baillieu family estate at 39 St Georges Road was demolished by property developer Harry Stamoulis, who has gone on to build one of Australia’s most expensive and elaborate mansions on the site.
  • Stonnington Council confirmed no recent planning applications have been lodged by Ms Bao, who will not need a permit to construct a single dwelling.

TITLE TATTLE

JONATHAN CHANCELLOR | 18 JUNE 2014

Chinese tycoon's heritage Edwardian Toorak villa demolition plans thwarted


Stonnington Council has sought approval from the Victorian Planning Minister Matthew Guy to ensure permanent heritage overlay protection for 19 neighbouring Toorak properties.
  • They included Idylwilde, the historic 1913 Edwardian villa with art nouveau influences, aka Ulva, which the Chinese tycoon Wang Hua, from the Jeshing Group and his wife, Xiao "Kylie" Yan Bao bought for $18.58 million last September from LU Simon boss Peter Devitt with intentions to demolish.
  • The council received an application for demolition at 16 St Georges Road, prompting a December 2013 request to the Minister for Planning to intervene with a ministerial amendment by including the property in the Heritage Overlay with interim protection (Amendment C188).

It was not previously affected by a heritage overlay, however the building was flagged for investigation as part of previous council heritage studies.
  • A notice refusing consent to the proposed demolition of the building was issued in late December last year. Although the City of Stonnington believed that the owner had an intent to demolish, the council deemed there was no at ‘immediate or imminent’ threat.
  • The planning department then advised Council that it must expedite a planning scheme amendment to introduce a permanent heritage overlay for the site.


Chris Vedelago and Philip Wen November 4, 2013
One of China's wealthiest people has bought a Toorak mansion for more than $20 million amid claims the businessman regularly flies into the country in a private plane carrying suitcases of cash.
Entrepreneur Wang Hua is China's 790th richest person, with a net worth of $400 million that the 54-year-old is seeking to sink into residential developments, wineries, timber companies, golf courses and luxury homes in Australia.
  • I am very rich, I have my private airplane, all my wealthy friends know I have bought a golf course in Melbourne... I cannot lose face.

Mr Wang, a former People's Liberation Army Navy serviceman, is the mystery buyer who spent at least $20 million in September for the sprawling Toorak estate owned by Peter Devitt, the director of construction company LU Simon.
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Sprawling: The property on St Georges Road in Toorak is one of Melbourne's finest trophy homes. Photo: Supplied

The sale of one of Melbourne's most expensive trophy homes took place after Mr Wang flew into the city on his personal jet, which he uses to shuttle between his adopted home and the Chinese operations of his conglomerate, Jeshing Group.
On these regular visits to Australia, Mr Wang reportedly brings in a suitcase full of US dollars that is deposited in a local branch of a mainland Chinese bank, according to allegations in court documents. Read more:

The beautiful rose, 16 St Georges Road, Toorak

The look is a mixture of Queen Anne and bungalow styles
The look is a mixture of Queen Anne and bungalow styles

By Jonathan Chancellor, Property Observer, Monday, 17 June 2013
The Toorak property, 16 St Georges Road is one of Melbourne’s most significant homes.
  • It sits on just about an acre, the home of LU Simon building company director Peter Devitt and his wife Jo and their family for many years.
  • It is being marketed internationally via a website and a short film with a sound track called Beautiful Rose by composer Alex Khaskin. The lead actors were professionals, Gary Glenn and model/law student Millie Davis. Not sure about the labrador.
  • All co-ordinated by market leaders Goldeneye Media whose campaign secured 33,000 views in its first week.
  • Agent Ross Savas was talking around $20 million for the property on its listing late last year.

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Offshore buyer secures 16 St Georges Road, Toorakfrom Peter Devitt in circa $20 million saleBy Jonathan Chancellor, Property Observer, Sunday, 22 September 2013
The Toorak property, 16 St Georges Road, one of Melbourne’s most significant homes, has been sold through Kay & Burton.
  • It was marketed internationally via a short film produced by Golden Eye Media.
  • The Kay & Burton agent Ross Savas was talking around $20 million for the property on its listing in late 2012, and while the sale price has not been disclosed, the agency suggests the sale was "circa $20 million."
  • It has been billed as "one of city's biggest property deals."
  • Property Observer gleans 16 St Georges Road has been bought by an off shore Asian buyer who first inspected the property several months ago.

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The mainland Chinese buyer flew into Melbourne last week on their private jet to put the signature on the contract.
It last traded at $4.4 million in 1997.
  • There has been no official confirmation of the price of the Georgian-style mansion on Towers Road, Toorak but it is understood to have fallen short of the Melbourne record of $24 million.
  • Property Observer gleans it sold for around $21 million, a very healthy result.

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Reprinted from the Radical Terrace
A $20m Mansion Lists in Toorak Comes With Awkward Video

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A $20m+ listing emerged on the market last week on what has historically been considered the most prestigious stretch of St Georges Road in Toorak. Directly across the street from Toorak House, 16 St Georges Road is an early-20th Century self-described “Art Nouveau” (although it’s not Art Nouveau at all, “Arts & Crafts” would be more apt) estate sitting on a full one acre spread of land.
  • The home has been extremely well-maintained; so much so that the Radical Terrace ventures to say the floor plan is mostly in original shape (save for the placement of the master bedroom).
  • The home sold to the current owners in 1997 for either $4.4m or $5m, depending the source. It’s a fun listing for a few reasons: for starters, the home rests on what is today considered a large parcel of Toorak land.
  • However, in its original state, it was one of many 1-acre parcels that sat north of Toorak Road in between far larger multi-acre estates, almost all of which have since been heavily subdivided. And although we can’t get our hands on an exact date of construction, it’s non-existence on MMBW maps date the home post-Federation.
  • The exterior Arts & Crafts treatment speaks to a popular style of that era, but the lack of orientation to the outdoors and grouping of all public rooms at the front of the house indicates a slightly dated and thoroughly Victorian floor plan. A floor plan, mind you, that hasn’t changed much since.
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The interiors are of a certain indiscriminate period, but thankfully Kay & Burton alongside Goldeneye Media produced a video that helps us viewers better understand the lifestyle associated with such a residence.
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Ross Savas of Kay & Burton has the listing: 16 St Georges Road, Toorak
More listing photos below!
A Victorian era style, with baroque trim, however the use of white and cream is Edwardian era
A Victorian era style, with baroque trim, however the use of white and cream is Edwardian era

Beautiful fireplace, wood panelling is not ornate, so more Edwardian than Victorian era.
Beautiful fireplace, wood panelling is not ornate, so more Edwardian than Victorian era.
An Edwardian interior, beautiful leadlight glass.
An Edwardian interior, beautiful leadlight glass.


This is a Victorian era interior, although the leadlight glass is from the 20s or even 30s
This is a Victorian era interior, although the leadlight glass is from the 20s or even 30s
Transom windows above patio doors, parquetry floor would be original
Transom windows above patio doors, parquetry floor would be original


Art Nouveau leadlight, probably the reason the agents described the property as Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau leadlight, probably the reason the agents described the property as Art Nouveau

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