6 Byron St The New Home
As mentioned in the chapter on the Fletcher Lane building the Most Worshipful Grand Master visited the area in 1987 to attend a District Ball at Ballina. At the same time he also visited Byron Bay and inspected the Lodge Cavanbah building, which had been built in 1910. As a result of that visit he asked the District Grand Inspector of Workings, Very Worshipful Brother Fred Jupe to pass on to the Lodge members his feelings that the Lodge building as it stood was not a good advertisement for Freemasonry and recommended that action be taken to improve the image.
Consequently on the 20th July 1987 at the regular meeting of the Lodge, Brother Jupe conveyed those feelings to the members. From that time the members gave much thought to the condition of the Lodge rooms and how to improve them and provide better facilities for the members and a better image of Freemasonry to the public. Nearly two years later the Master, Worshipful Brother Darrell Lamb advised that a building committee would be formed consisting of the senior officers of the Lodge and that they would meet monthly to plan for a new lodge building. To enable a continuity of ideas and work, the Lodge at the regular meeting on the 19th July 1990 passed a motion "That the lodge elect a building committee and this committee be responsible for all planning and coordination with the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales and other bodies as required".
At the following meeting held on the 16th August 1990 the lodge members confirmed the appointment of this building committee for a two year period and that they appoint their own Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer. The Lodge members appointed the following to form the building committee: Very Worshipful Brothers Fred Jupe & Eric Wright, plus Worshipful Brothers Neil Lamb, Ron North, Darrell Lamb, & John Gilbert plus Brother Nick Towers.
About that time Brother Towers had been having discussions with the Department of Social Security regarding the building of an office block suitable to house the Department, whose rented premises in Jonson Street were becoming too small for them. Brother Towers at that time owned and operated the business Nick Towers Real Estate. In 1992 the Department of Social Security advertised for expressions of interest to build for them an office block of at least 400 square metres. Contact was made with the United Grand Lodge to ascertain if finance may be available to enable the Lodge to build an office block suitable to house the Department of Social Security on the ground floor and for new lodge rooms on the first floor. The proposal to construct such a building was put to the members of the lodge and they agreed to continue the planning for such a building. So the committee continued with the planning and much time and energy was spent on the project with the result that the Lodge submitted an expression of interest to the Department of Social Security. This expression and the submission was successful and the Lodge was granted the contract to build an office for them.
Now the work started to find the finance to build the these offices and a new lodge room_ For a number of years the members had been contributing a percentage of their dues to a building fund to maintain the old premises and to form a basis of funds for the eventual building of new lodge rooms.
In October 1992 the Treasurer advised that the bequest of $27,084.82 received from the estate of the late Brother Ted Glock had been added to this fund following Brother Glock's desire that his bequest be used by the lodge to assist in the funding of new lodge rooms. As at the 31st December 1992 the building funds deposits, including the bequest totaled nearly $35,000.00.
Negotiations then took place with the Commonwealth Bank and they tentatively advised that a loan of $600,000.00 may be available if the lodge could provide the balance of the funds necessary which was approximately another $300,000.00. The United Grand Lodge was then advised of this situation and a request for this amount of S300,000.00 made to them. From discussions held it appeared that the project may be able to go ahead, so at that time a project manager was appointed to oversee the construction. The successful applicant was the Techne Group whose head office was situated in Geelong,Victoria and who had a branch office in Lismore.
To allow the Lodge to continue along the path of building a commercial building plus the lodge rooms it was necessary to amend the bylaws, and these were amended on the recommendation of the United Grand Lodge. Many varied and long committee meetings were held and continued into 1993. The Lodge area on the first floor was designed by Brother Nick Towers and Worshipful Brother Duncan Ethell who although apart by some distance regularly exchanged ideas by telephone and faxes and their final ideas and plans were approved by the committee. On the 18th March 1993 the Chairman of the building committee Worshipful Brother Darrell Lamb reported to the lodge members the progress made. The members approved of the actions taken to that date by the committee and the principle of building a ground floor office block with the lodge rooms on the first floor. The preliminary plans were accepted and approval was given for the committee to proceed with a development application for the project to the Byron Shire Council at a fee of $7,000.00 .
A shelf company was purchased through the Grand Lodge legal representative and the name "Byron Bay Masonic Centre Pty Ltd" given to that company and the articles of association amended to take into consideration the members being Freemasons, and the company operating a Freemason's Lodge. This then allowed negotiations to continue with the raising of finance and the entering into contracts for the the building and constuction. An accountant, Mr John Dwyer of Thomas Noble & Russell was then employed to produce a financial statement and cash flow summary for the overall project.
This document revealed that with financing as mentioned, that was a $600,000.00 loan from the bank and a loan from the Building Board of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales of $300,000.00 the project should be viable and the loans paid paid off by the year 2006. An initial yearly rent of $108,000.00 was agreed to with the Department of Social Security, such rent being subject to rent increases over the period of the lease which was set an initial period of 6 years with a right of renewal of a further 6 years then a second option period of a further 4 years. This would have taken their occupation up to an anticipated year 2010, and provided the Lodge over the years with a steady income to repay the loans and allow for donations to Masonic and other charities. After the year 2006 this could have amounted to be in excess of $100,000.00 a year. By July 1993 the contracts had been signed and a constuction timetable agreed to. This timetable meant that the lodge had to vacate the Fletcher Lane premises and work to commence on the new building no later than October that year and be completed by April 1994. At this time the Lodge decided to approach Lodge Bangalow with a request to hold meetings in their Lodge rooms while the new Byron Street building was being constructed.