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Uniting Church of Australia nabs Woden Centre for more than $8 million

November 21, 2018

The four-storey Woden Centre in Phillip, ACT, has sold for more than $8 million. Photo: Supplied

In a solid sign of its faith in the future of the ACT’s Woden Valley, the Uniting Church of Australia has snapped up a prime commercial asset for just over $8 million.

The church secured the four-level Woden Centre at 20 Bradley Street, Phillip, for $8.155 million and it’s perhaps coincidence, rather than a divine sign, that the 1946-square-metre building is also known as the “Churches Centre”.

The sale marks the end of a campaign run by Colliers International that drew interest from throughout Australia.

Associate director of city and metro sales Matthew Winter said the strong national response was driven by the property’s blue-chip credentials.

“We weren’t surprised it generated wide inquiry from interstate along with a mix of local, private investors and developers,” he said.

“The address couldn’t be better; the building is adjacent to Westfield Woden and is opposite the bus interchange. And it enjoys 100 per cent occupancy and 3.11-year WALE (weighted average lease expiry).”

The Woden Centre was recently refurbished and boasts a strong tenancy profile, housing national businesses including Aussie Home Loans, the Red Cross, IMB, and Workways.

Mr Winter said other key features of the investment proved irresistible.

“The Woden Centre offers its new owners an initial yield of 7.62 per cent, but it presents further opportunities for value-add,” he said.

“There may be long-term redevelopment prospects given the building’s triple street frontage, CZ1 zoning and rectangular shaped 732-square-metre site.”

The buyer is the Uniting Church in Australia Property Trust (NSW), on behalf of the beneficial owner, which is the Illawarra Presbytery.

The executive director of Uniting Financial Services, Warren Bird, said the presbytery had been searching for a suitable investment for more than a year.

“Several possibilities were rejected before the Woden property was judged to be a sound investment.  It has a strong location with a good quality and diversity of commercial businesses and organisations as tenants,” he said.

“As a result, UFS was willing to supplement the presbytery funds with a $3 million loan to enable the purchase.”

The UFS is the treasury and investment arm of the Uniting Church Synod of NSW and the ACT. Mr Bird said income from the property would support several key Uniting Church mission initiatives in the Illawarra, including tertiary chaplaincy.

Colliers’ Matthew Winter said the sale had been a highlight in a tight commercial environment.

“There have been limited on-market opportunities in Canberra this year, yet it is a market in demand, particularly around the town centres,” he said.

“Overall, this is a strong result which confirms ongoing confidence in Canberra despite the tight lending criteria from banks and some uncertainty in the macroeconomic environment.

“Woden is particularly popular and undergoing renewal. There are significant residential developments coming online and these will bring increased activity to the area,” he said.

Just last month, Geocon’s $400 million Wova development was given the green light with construction due to begin early next year.

The development, on the site of the old Woden Tradies Club, will comprise 800 apartments over four buildings.

The tallest tower will be 24 storeys and the other buildings 16, 13 and 12 storeys. There will be 2650 square metres of commercial space and 1160 car bays.

The second stage of the light rail network will join the city and the Woden Town Centre. Its final route is currently being debated by the federal and ACT governments.

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