City jewel gets new tenant

By Chris Thomson | posted on January 12, 2018

A STATE heritage-listed York Street landmark, vacant for the past 18 months, will be tenanted once more when Mark Blyth Fine Jewellery moves in at the end of January.

From letting agent Doug Pearson, Mark and Tamara Blyth recently received the key to Albany House, erected in 1884 on the corner of York Street and Stirling Terrace.

Mr Pearson said the Blyths would lease the 152sqm downstairs space for close to the asking price of $27,360 a year.

“It’ll be great, because they have a really good product and it’s been hidden where it is at the moment,” he said.

“They’re going to set it up nicely, with good interior layouts, designs and finishes.

“This will give them a lot more exposure.”

For the past nine years, the Blyths’ jewellery business has been located in a shopfront across York Street from Albany House, in the Empire Buildings, which are on Albany’s local heritage register.

That shop-front is now up for lease.

Ms Blyth said the business should start trading from its new premises on January 29, depending on whether the City of Albany approves an application to convert the space from commercial to office use by then.

“For the first time in Mark’s 20-plus years as a jeweller he’ll have windows in his workshop,” she said.

“He won’t be working in a little dungeon out the back.”

Mr Blyth said the white marble of an existing fireplace in Albany House would be mirrored in a white marble shop counter he’d commissioned from Perth that would come in at a cool $14,000.

“We baulked at it for a couple of weeks, then we decided we should just do it,” he confided.

He said the bespoke building would be consistent with the hand-crafted nature of much of his jewellery.

A massive London-built safe from the building’s original use as a bank will again store valuables for the jewellery shop and for members of the public wishing to safeguard personal treasures.

Albany House was added to the State Register of Heritage Places in 1999.

Notable for pre-dating the gold rush, the building housed a branch of the Union Bank and then of the ANZ Bank, from 1884 to 1973.

For many decades, its sprawling top floor was home to whoever was bank manager at the time.

Mr Pearson said the 136sqm top floor was still available – for $16,320 a year.

“It’s Central Area zoning, which allows some really good uses there,” he said.

“It goes from retail, to office, to restaurant subject to conformity with health regulations.

“It’s a very prominent position right in town, and you’re looking out over the harbour, of course.”

The building’s most recent long-term tenant was an engineering firm.

A vegan café occupied the downstairs space for a short while after the engineering firm vacated.