A. Down Under

He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die.

In Australia, that most ancient of lands and now the home for migrants from many countries, is the city of Sydney and the suburb of Glebe. On its gently sloping sandstone and shale contours stands a terrace house at 39 Glebe Point Road.

That place would be discovered by Amir Bodenstein, a new arrival from Israel in the 1990s. He saw it as more than a building: it would be the home and place of business for his family. A place where they could build a future in this old and new land.

39 and 41 Glebe Point Road are owned separately, but together comprise one building, with a common party wall in the center of the building. The eastern side wall of 39 is adjacent to Dan Minogue Park.

In 1989 39 Glebe Point Road is purchased by Mr and Mrs Voukelatos. The new owner receives compensation from the local Council for damage from roots growing from poplar trees in the adjacent Dan Minogue Park.

In 1990 a structural engineer recommends the property’s front wall be demolished and replaced as it is structurally unsound.

Johnston, a civil engineer, reports that there are cracks in the property’s walls and in 1991 advises that the rebuilding of the front wall has been completed.

Several tenants – Ms. Spindler, Ms. Davidson and Ms. Kirkinpar – in turn lease the property, each intending to run food-related businesses there and in turn have their leases terminated.

A new tenant, Jack Grant, signs a lease on 39 Glebe Point Road, intending to run a Thai restaurant there. A survey he commissions finds a bend and encroachments and recommends underpinning and new steel columns and beams. Council issues an Emergency Order requiring structural repairs.

Voukelatos, the owner, asks Council for time to comply with the Emergency Order on 39 Glebe Point Road, due to his absence overseas.

The owner’s agent, LJ Hooker Glebe, arranges an independent report on the property which finds cracks and undermining. These, while creating no immediate danger, will need to be fixed by remedial works.

The agent arranges for quotes from contractors to do rectification works on the property. The first quote is from L.S. Booth and the second, from the tenant Grant’s company Advanced Underpinnings, is accepted by the owner.

The owner instructs the agent to delay progress payments on rectification works if the tenant remains behind in his rent.

The tenant requests permission to surrender his lease on the property or, alternatively, the transfer of the lease to one of his other companies, Advanced Building Services Australia.

The owner’s lawyer, Casimatis, suggests the owner get rid of the tenant Grant.

The owner Voukelatos signs a contract with Grant’s company to do rectification works on the property.

The tenant’s lawyer claims the tenant is only responsible for refurbishment and renovations and not for structural works.

In 2001 LJ Hooker Glebe repossesses the property from Grant, who then applies to the Tribunal to regain access.

The lawyers for the owner and the tenant negotiate regarding the surrender of the lease by the tenant. The tenant’s lawyer claims no further rent is payable. The owner’s lawyer replies that rent is payable until 28 April and, moreover, the tenant has to sign a contract to repair the defective wall.

The owner asks his lender to give him a temporary rent reprieve until he can find a new tenant for 39 Glebe Point Road.

The owner’s lawyer, Casimatis, issues a reminder that rectification works must be completed soon and suggests a way to circumvent Council’s order.

The owner instructs LJ Hooker Glebe to spend as little as possible in its search for a new tenant. He engages a new agent, Carino, as a possible replacement for LJ Hooker Glebe, which he describes as “slack”. The latter again advise the owner to undertake further repairs on the property and to commit to a well-funded advertising budget for tenant search.

LH Hooker Glebe receives lease offers for the property from several prospective tenants.

In December Council inspects 39 Glebe Point Road in the company of Voukelatos. The latter tenders Johnston’s report to Council which, in January 2002, announces it will no longer require the upgrading of the property.

1. F.O.I.
2. Subpoenas
3. 39 GPR

1. F.O.I.

On 1 August 2002, I submitted a F.O.I. request to Leichhardt Council and in November 2002 I viewed the Building File for the first time (marked with *).

2. Subpoenas

In August 2005 I subpoenaed the Council’s Building Files from City of Sydney and Mr & Mrs Voukelatos’ file from L.J. Hooker, Glebe (no mark).

3. 39 GPR


39 GPR is sited at the end of a row of tenement/shops abutting Dan Minogue Park and was built around 1870 with typical sandstone foundations and convict – stamped bricks. There were two poplar trees whose roots had damaged the foundations such as to cause a bulge in the 24 metre wall of 11 centimetres encroaching into the Park. In 1990 Emergency Orders – the landlord The poplar were removed in the late 90’s Surveyor’s report on encroachment Emergency Order 1

Skills, background, money, Australia (Independent Executive Scheme, business partner) 1989-90 emigration process –up to 2001 Morden Paint award from Master Builders Emergency Order 2 Landlord’s chosen private certifier, civil engineer Johnston Amir’s chosen private certifier, structural engineer Bekker.

Amir & 39 GPR 2001 till present day


In respect of the Terms of Reference 1 (a), I refer to a historical building, 39 Glebe Point Road, Glebe, NSW which was built in the 1870’s. It is sited at the end of a row of tenement/shops adjoining 41 GPR with sandstone footings and double convict-made brick walls which have been damaged by the roots of poplar and other trees penetrating the foundations. This caused an irrevocable breakdown in the structural integrity of 39 and 41GPR which also led to two major bulges in the wall, one of which is up to 11 centimeters, both encroaching into Dan Minogue Park.

In 2001 I leased the property from the landlord, who resided permanently on the Greek island of Leftkada, for a total of 15 years to be used as a Moroccan restaurant on the ground floor with a residence on the first floor for my family. In the course of lengthy renovations many structural defects were discovered and the structural engineer I subsequently consulted reported that there was a danger of collapse. The landlord with the assistance of a civil engineer private certifier connived to totally misrepresent the actual state of the building by claiming that it was constructed with inherent bulges.

After Leichhardt Council issuing Emergency Order 1 (1990) and then City of Sydney Council issuing Emergency Order 2 (2003), even though the landlord initiated internal steel bracing on the ground floor to placate Council, the building has still not been rectified to date, and constitutes a danger of collapse endangering people in the park. I ask that 39 and 41 GPR be re-assessed urgently and a third Emergency Order issued as soon as possible. Supporting documents are available on request and I ask to appear before the Commission to further reinforce the necessity of re-assessment and to clarify any matters of relevance.

*****As lessee of the property at the time, a dispute occurred with the landlord regarding the safety of the wall which resulted in two private certifiers, civil & structural engineers, having differing reports as to the structural integrity of the building and the adjoining property, 41 Glebe Point Road. The striking difference apparent in these two reports implies a strong possibility of corruption by the landlord and his civil engineer certifier thus negating the need for serious, expensive rectification work.****

NOTE (insert link):
The endemic poplar tree can cause major structural damage to building foundations due to the thickness and length of its roots, so they should always be planted at least five meters from any structure.