One of the oldest buildings still standing in Mackay is for sale at a time when the North Queensland city is set to undergo a major revitalisation.
Customs House, a significant Federation-era building on Mackay’s riverfront, is on the market for the first time in 15 years and is tipped to fetch $1.5 million.
Completed in 1902 for a cost of ￡3797, the state heritage-listed building has been extensively renovated by owners Alman and Partners, who are relocating to larger premises.
There are two buildings on the title: Customs House and the adjacent Bond House, which was built in 1935 and will be sold with a tenant in place.
Customs House was built when Mackay was an important port along the Pioneer River and its current sale comes at a time when the city’s entire harbour precinct is set to undergo a multi-million dollar revamp – the proposed ‘Mackay Waterfront Priority Development Area Scheme’.
Officially given the green light by the Queensland Government on May 24, the scheme primarily involves redeveloping and opening up the waterfront.
It also includes promoting the city as a key business hub, expanding knowledge-based industries, improving parks and attractions and cementing Mackay as a tourist destination.
Mackay mayor Councillor Greg Williamson has not yet released costings for the project but has previously said it could be in the ballpark of $200 million, and that the council would seek state and federal government funding.
Selling agent Jordan Miller of Explore Property Mackay Commercial said the scheme had already attracted buyers and developers wanting to be part of it.
“It’s going to be something that will develop over the next 10 to 15 years, it’s more of a visionary type of project,” he said.
“Much of the town has been built away from the river so the whole vision is to activate the river and have developments and large community spaces facing it. It’s definitely fueling interest in that precinct, we’ve just leased a large 522-square-metre tenancy in that area,” he said.
Mr Miller also said Mackay was entering a recovery phase after a market correction.
“Generally, the market’s a lot more positive and we’re seeing a lot of business opportunity in the region, population growth and good confidence,” he said.
The first customs house was built on the site in 1865. It was a more modest timber building and eventually the Queensland Works Department capitulated to pressure for a grander building befitting Mackay’s prosperity.
The interior of the current building has decorative metal and boarded ceilings, moulded plaster wall decoration and panels, leadlight door panels, cedar joinery, and impressive multi-panelled windows in its ‘long room’.
Many of Mackay’s early buildings were destroyed in a cyclone in 1918 that left Customs House as one of the few survivors, and in good condition.
The property last traded in 2004 and has been occupied since by Alman Partners, who are moving on to a larger site to expand their business.
Director of Alman Partners, Steve Lowry, said that the company had loved restoring and occupying a piece of Mackay history.
“Our clients are devastated we are moving on as they love coming to this beautiful property. The challenge now is to create something unique in our new offices,” Mr Lowry said.
“The building certainly has character – you just have to explore the reception area known as the ‘Long Room’ to experience the craftsmanship that has gone into building this landmark.”
The Mackay region has experienced an 18 month growth in domestic tourist numbers, according to National Visitor Survey data published in mid-2018.
Overnight visitors to Mackay increased 1.9 per cent year on year, to 895,000 and the average length of stay went up 27.4 per cent year on year, to 4.7 nights.
The property at 31 River Street Mackay is for sale through expressions of interest.
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