The historic former Darlinghurst jail, long-term home of the National Art School, has been transferred to the control of the NSW government’s property arm, raising the possibility it could be put up for sale.
A notice published on Friday reveals the historic sandstone buildings and grounds, formally known as East Sydney Technical College, have been handed from the Department of Education to Property NSW.
Identifying state-owned property for sale is one of the key functions of Property NSW.
It has previously overseen the sale of other historic Sydney sandstone buildings, including the Department of Education and Department of Lands buildings in Bridge Street in the CBD.
Singapore-based Pontiac Land Group won a competitive tender for a 99-year lease of the buildings for $35 million. It plans to turn them into a luxury 240-room hotel.
It is also managing the sale of 290 state-owned properties in Millers Point.
But Property NSW also manages assets on behalf of government agencies.
A spokesman for Property NSW said there had been “no decision” by the government to sell the old Darlinghurst jail site.
“The vesting is consistent with the Property Asset Utilisation Taskforce report, which recommended that generic assets should be vested into Property NSW to deliver enhanced efficiencies in asset management,” he said.
“The government has made no decision to sell the site and has recently approved operational funding for the site.
“The government is conscious of the heritage significance of the site.”
The director of the National Art School, Michael Snelling, said he was told of the impending transfer about 18 months ago.
“We’ve been in discussions with Property NSW throughout that period,” he said.
The transfer of the National Art School campus follows news this week that the University of Sydney will shut down its Sydney College of the Arts campus at Callan Park, Balmain, and transfer students to the University of NSW, under a merger agreement.
The last woman to be hanged in NSW, Louisa Collins, was executed at Darlinghurst jail in 1889.
The National Art School has occupied the site in various forms since 1922, when it became a technical college.
There has previously been a call for the site to be turned into a new inner-city high school.