Historic North Melbourne church sold for first time in 170 years

Historic North Melbourne church sold for first time in 170 years
Brendan Rees

A large property site in North Melbourne that has been home to a 170-year-old bluestone church has been sold to an offshore buyer.

The sale of the 4882-square-metre block at 579-599 Queensberry St and 51-61 Curzon St includes the heritage-listed St Mark the Evangelist Uniting Church, which is known for its stunning gothic revival-style architecture and majestic 46-metre spire.

JLL’s capital markets team acted on behalf of the Uniting Church in Australia in the sale of the major site, which was offered by a public expression of interest process, with a reported price guide of about $10 million.

Both the JLL agents and the UCA declined to comment on the price or the transaction details, after confirming the sale on June 23, but added the existing buildings on site, with the church dating back to 1879, had led to significant interest from a range of prospective buyers.

“The campaign generated 217 interested parties, and despite some of the complexities and challenges of the site from a heritage and environmental perspective, a very pleasing sale outcome and settlement arrangement for our client was achieved,” JLL’s Jesse Radisich said.

 

This transaction demonstrates that robust demand is in the market for significant landholdings with income and upside potential, and many active purchasers are not impacted or concerned by uncertainty around interest rates.

 

UCA’s director of property services Peter Thomas said the Uniting Church and the Mark the Evangelist congregation were pleased to “see the next stage of life for the church and the site now about to commence under new ownership, following widespread interest from multiple parties”.

“We have been well supported by JLL who executed the extensive campaign on this truly complex and unique site,” Mr Thomas said.

As previously reported by North West City News, the Uniting Church of Australia’s moderator of the synod of Victoria and Tasmania, Reverend David Fotheringham, said the congregation had “discerned that their needs for the future had changed, and that such a substantial landholding, including the associated maintenance and upkeep required, no longer met their missional goals”.

The huge complex, which sits on a general residential-zoned site, has three street frontages along Curzon, Elm, and Queensberry streets totalling more than 200 metres.

The Victorian Heritage Register states: “the spire and imposing exterior of the church along with the intact manse, rear hall, parsonage and cottages results in a complex of aesthetic significance, which is a landmark in North Melbourne”.

The community will eagerly await details of what the new buyer has in store for the property, and whether that includes any proposed development plans, but they hope any new project will honour the site’s heritage and contribute positively to the fabric of North Melbourne. •

John Buncle

John Buncle

February 14th, 2024 - Felicity Jack
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