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Australia Parramatta Road's Urban Flower to close doors after iconic property forcibly acquired by Sydney Metro

21:03  08 march  2021
21:03  08 march  2021 Source:   msn.com

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Urban Flower has been a fixture of Parramatta Road for 48 years, but it will soon shut its doors.

The florist is owned by Carli Jeffrey and her husband Winston, who was raised in the shop's upstairs quarters with his 10 siblings.

Five generations of Jeffreys have worked at the business, which will be forcibly acquired by Transport for NSW (TNSW) and flattened as part of the development of the new Burwood North metro station.

The station is due to be completed by 2024, but Carli and Winston have to be out of the flower shop by June 21.

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Winston and Carli claim the compensation they're receiving from TNSW is not enough to restart their business elsewhere, and that they will have to shut.

Winston's great-grandfather Gaetano, migrated from Italy and began a floristry business in Sydney in 1902.

Years later, what started as a simple market stall became Urban Flower.

Winston's father David who also ran Urban Flower died in February 2019, just months before Sydney Metro officials told them the building would be forcibly acquired.

"The biggest tragedy for me personally and for our family is that gets erased and lost with a stroke of a pen," Winston said.

The station will be part of Sydney Metro West — the third stage of the city's metro rail network — which will connect Tallawong to Chatswood by 2024.

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The blueprint includes stations at Westmead, Parramatta, Sydney Olympic Park, North Strathfield, Burwood North, Five Dock and the Bays Precinct at Rozelle.

A Sydney Metro spokesperson said the organisation understood the property acquisition process "can cause stress and frustration".

They said a "detailed planning process" was undertaken before finalising the location of Burwood North station.

"Sydney Metro makes every effort to avoid acquiring privately owned land and businesses wherever possible," they said.

The Jeffrey's block will be replaced with a high-rise building, which will include a mixture of commercial and residential space.

A spokesperson for Sydney Metro said the organisation had been working with the owners since 2019 to reach a "mutually agreed settlement".

"This has included an offer of compensation to relocate their business, based on an independent valuation in accordance with the Just Terms Act," a spokesperson said.

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But the Jeffreys claim the compensation they've been offered by the NSW government is not enough for them to restart their business elsewhere.

"They act like mob bosses that can take what they want and when they want, you don't have a say," Carli said.

Until March 2019, the state government had included compensation for loss of profits during relocation.

David Newhouse, a lawyer who specialises in property acquisition, said the change meant many business owners were "now left high and dry and cannot claim any money for loss of profits while their business re-establishes itself in the new location".

Mr Newhouse said urgent government reforms were needed, including much earlier consultation with residents and business owners who were in the "line of fire" of a new development.

The Urban Flower building, which is owned by Winston's mother and leased by the business, was acquired by the NSW government in February.

Winston said his mother, 74, found the process "very intimidating".

"It was really horrible for her, the way she was spoken to," Carli added.

"It was not treated as the sort of place she brought her 11 babies home to."

The acquisition means Sydney Metro have effectively become the "landlord" for Carli and Winston's business who were given a June deadline to vacate.

Winston said it would be difficult to say goodbye to the shop he called home since he was a child.

He has fond memories of his late father standing on the corner because "he loved a yarn".

He said the shop was open 24 hours a day at one point, and could remember his father dashing downstairs in the middle of the night to serve customers.

"You become familiar with their stories ... you use a florist for the milestones in your life," he said.

"The type of memories that happen over 48 years, embedded in a community, that can't happen anywhere else, they can't be replicated."

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