Friday, June 27, 2008

Packer's 'white elephant' leased, By Justin Vallejo - The Daily Telegraph - 27th June 2008

Bondi's most famous white elephant has sat vacant beneath James Packer's beachside palazzo for the past six years.

Now the ground floor of Packer's former bachelor pad is to be converted into a Jurlique "wellness sanctuary".

The Campbell Parade block will house the pursuit of "beauty and connecting oneself to the earth" rather than dirty nappies.

The space had been boarded up since iconic retailer Jones The Grocer shut up shop in 2002, and was eventually placed into voluntary administration with $1 million in debts.

The site was supposed to have provided a rental income of more than $3000 a week for Packer, with the grocery shop paying $148,000 a year for panoramic views of Bondi Beach.

International coffee chain Starbucks almost took up residence in 2003 but pulled out after residents' protests - an American chain, puh-lease.

Gelateria & Pizzeria owner George Pompei was also keen but couldn't get permission for outdoor seating.

Packer settled on Jurlique, a cosmetics company in which his CPH Investment Corp paid $25 million in 2002 for a 25 per cent share.

Contractors have already begun converting the site, scheduled to open in July - and it's no dodgy kebab shop operation, either.

According to chief executive Eli Halliwell, Jurlique "is passion" and a chance to connect with the "living energy" of their skincare products.

"Beauty is sustainable connections to the earth," her website says.

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