It is the real estate anomaly that sits in the centre of one of Wollongong’s most exclusive seaside addresses.
The Indian mansion at 64 Cliff Road was built by former mining magnate Arun Jagatramka as a multi-level statement piece, complete with underground parking, a glass elevator and a rooftop terrace.
And for the past decade, it has been empty.
“It doesn’t fit in with the rest of Cliff Road, but it fits in with what they wanted and their lifestyle,” Wollongong real estate agent Neil Webster said.
“You can appreciate they went to extreme measures to build something of such a grand scale and high quality.”
Mr Webster said the property would be worth $8–10 million in today’s vibrant housing market.
How did it get there?
Mr Jagatramka purchased the property from Wollongong’s Spence family for $5 million in 2008.
Norma Spence, the previous owner of the property, had resisted selling the prime block for years, but after her death her children decided they would take it to market.
Norma’s son Mark had hoped the new owners would make a bold statement and build something different.
“What we got was a big white box, strangely with no [south-facing] windows viewing the harbour — I can’t conceive why you wouldn’t enjoy the views offered by that address,” he said.
Mr Jagatramka’s family lived in the seaside house for several years before financial trouble for his company, Gujarat NRE, resulted in him selling the company and leaving the city.
Who owns it now and why is it empty?
Mr Jagatramka owned 64 Cliff Road through his company Gujarat NRE properties, but that company was sold to Basant International in 2013.
Basant International is an exporter and manufacturer of parts for trucks, tractors and trailers with headquarters in India.
Ever since Basant International took over 64 Cliff Road, it has been maintained but vacant.
Calls to Basant International’s Indian-based phone number ring out and it is difficult to speak to the owner of the property and ask what their plans for the house are.
The registered office for the business is the Sydney-based law firm Gokani and Associates.
The company’s director said he had passed on a request from the ABC for an interview to the owner of the property, who is in India.
Mansion ‘should be demolished’
Wollongong real estate agent Neil Webster said while the property was impressive, he believed better use of the land would be to demolish it and build more apartments.
“They [Jagatramkas] built it for their tastes and that’s understandable because the home here is similar to the grand scale mansions built in India,” he said.
“Some properties deserve to stay in their current format because they have significance or fantastic architecture, but in the scheme of things here, I see the opportunity to knock this down and have high-quality apartments with four to five families living in the location.”
Mr Spence agreed.
“It’s a disappointing build and I can live with that, but what’s most disappointing is no-one lives there,” he said.
“It’s this beautiful address with iconic, unbelievable views and it’s a place to grow up in just like we did.”
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