New lease of life planned for Paragon

The Paragon in Katoomba is to be repaired.

A DA has been lodged to repair water-damaged floorboards, walls and roof and to install sub-flooring ventilation to replace an inadequate and aged system.

The conservation works are estimated to cost $360,000. The building is owned by Sydney solicitor, John Landerer.

The Paragon building has been empty since May last year when the tenant, Robyn Parker, left after failing to negotiate a new lease with Mr Landerer.

Glory days: The banquet hall/ballroom in 1938. Source: Friends of the Paragon website

Glory days: The banquet hall/ballroom in 1938. Source: Friends of the Paragon website

Ms Parker wanted a rent cut or an agreement for much-needed maintenance to be carried out on the more than 100-year-old historic building. But she was given notice to quit.

A "for lease" sign has been in the window for the last 16 months

The DA, in the name of Conset Investments Pty Ltd, includes several heritage and conservation reports, all recognising the importance of the heritage-listed building.

The cafe was opened in 1916 as the Paragon Cafe and Oyster Palace by Zacharias (Jack) Simos.

It is on the state heritage register and is also listed by the Blue Mountains council as a significant site.

The schedule of conservation works with the DA outlines the intricacies involved in restoring such a building, including replacing any broken glass in the famous front window "to match the colour, texture, opacity, and dimensions and details, including bevelled edges, of the original".

Timber walls, parquet flooring and tiles have to be replaced with matching products, all original light fittings are to be retained and a specialist conservator employed to restore the distinctive mirrors.

The architects even get down to the nitty-gritty of maintenance, such as this advice for the timber wall panels: "Polishing should be infrequent; only when needed to buff out marks in wax polish. Use a good furniture wax (with beeswax); apply sparingly with a clean duster and buff with another."

The schedule also warns that the restoration "may not result in a visual outcome that is uniform or consistent".

Over time, however, the patina of age and natural weathering will reduce the contrast between the old and the new.

The DA is on public exhibition until November 15.

Footnote: Robyn Parker has opened the New Paragon in Katoomba St next to the Avalon restaurant. She is using the chocolate-making equipment from the old cafe to produce hand-made treats.