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A heritage-listed church in Sydney’s south is on the market for more than $1 million, after its owner developer Smith Group spent up to $600,000 refurbishing it.
Built in 1880 for about £1000, the former Knox Presbyterian Church at 1559 Botany Road, Botany, was restored in late September and occupies a 210-square-metre site. It forms part of Smith Group’s Greens on Botany residential development.
Smith Group director Frank Hupp said the restoration of the double-height, single-storey church “was a lot of work”.
“There was a lot of structural work that went into it, we had to source the handmade common bricks from another demolition out at Castlereagh, slate was brought in from Wales to reslate the roof,” he said.
“It was an absolute pleasure to have pulled an old building like that apart and to put most of it back together.”
Mr Hupp believes after the upgrades there is up to another 200 years of life for the building before the next refurbishment.
“Whoever ends up buying that, hopefully they’ll just love it for what it is: an old building put back together.”
The wider 1860-square-metre development site last sold for $4.75 million in 2016.
Knight Frank selling agent Anthony Pirrottina said the building could be converted into offices, a shop, food-and-beverage retailer, a residence or a coworking space, subject to council approval.
“You could potentially buy it and put a mezzanine through it; right now it’s just the church and the ceilings are really, really tall, you could then lease it out,” he said.
While religious groups are expected to show interest, commercial property investors would be the dominant buyer group.
“I think it’ll really be a battle between the commercial buyer and the residential buyer,” Mr Pirrottina said.
He noted that smaller companies were migrating outside of the Sydney CBD into the inner south suburbs.
“The way that the Sydney market’s going, it’s almost becoming cost-prohibitive for small startups and even just privately owned small businesses to be in the CBD,” he said.
“There’s so little space around, particularly in the smaller size range, it’s so expensive that the fringe markets are becoming much more popular.”
Investors are seeing the potential of the fringe office markets, with many snapping up older sites for office conversion.
One example is the former Fratelli Fresh headquarters at Waterloo, which will undergo a warehouse conversion into boutique offices, after it sold for more than $25 million in June 2018.
And in Darlinghurst, a strip of ageing retail buildings on Crown Street could be turned into a six-storey office redevelopment.
Mr Pirrottina said this migration will be mirrored in the coworking sector, despite most flexible workplaces still being located in the CBD.
“People want to work close to where they live, so with the growth of population, density and residential in south Sydney, it’s a perfect example of working close to where you live.”
The Botany building comes with four allocated car parking spaces in the development’s basement and a private external courtyard.
Mr Pirrottina is selling the site, which goes to auction on November 3, with colleagues Arland Domingo and Demi Cariglianio.