If you take an interest in the development of cities, you will no doubt have read Jane Jacobs’s (urban studies, sociology and economics) comment, “Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings.” Jacobs recognised that diversity – in buildings and their uses – was critical to creating a thriving city. New businesses are driving Sydney’s office market with many younger people heading up these businesses. And younger people like older buildings with character.
Many older buildings on the Sydney city fringe, while no longer suitable for their original purpose, can be adapted for different uses including residential, office space and medical labs. We call this adaptive reuse, and if you own a building suitable for renovation, read on.
We know from research that our built environment contributes about 40% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. As builders and developers look more closely at their carbon footprint, they turn to adapting existing buildings rather than undertaking new builds.
Adaptive reuse changes an underused or now-obsolete building into something that can be used for a new purpose. Often, the only change is the building’s use. For heritage buildings, sympathetic adaptive reuse will retain unique heritage features while adding a modern layer to ensure the adapted building is fit for purpose.
For many years we’ve seen old inner-city warehouses being converted to residential or churches to offices. Now developers are more adventurous. A well-known East Coast architecture firm took up headquarters in Surry Hills in a converted car park. Ace Hotels, also in Surry Hills, created its hotel in Sydney’s first brickworks. Quay Quarter Tower at Circular Quay retained 70% of the older building’s original structure. Famously, the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo is a prime example of adaptive reuse while an old church at 17 Arthur St Surry Hills has been office space for decades and now appears to have been converted to a house. Anyone familiar with Kinselas bar and function rooms will probably remember it was a funeral parlour. However, even before its use as a funeral parlour, it was a draper’s store. In Camperdown, Rhodes House, an old car assembly works, was adapted to be Bradford Cotton Mills before being converted to residential in 1993. More recently, St Albans Church Five Dock has been earmarked for an adaptive reuse urban renewal project.
Park lovers will be familiar with the New York High Line, a former rail line now converted to a public park. (We have our own humbler version, The Goods Line, that tracks from UTS to the Powerhouse Museum.) A former bank in Rome is now a hotel run by the Shrager group.
Parramatta Road is Australia’s oldest highway that follows an ancient path created by Australia’s First People. If you own an older building along Parramatta Road, talk to us about possible adaptive reuse. Learn more about what types of properties will appeal to developers, create competition and net you a higher sale price. With our expertise, we can help you design and package an adaptive reuse project.
Recently we listed this warehouse office conversion at 1-7 Probert St. This former freestanding warehouse with magnificent high ceilings and some original windows has been converted to office space. The building currently houses four tenants and generates about $245,000 a year.
As dedicated local commercial real estate agents, we can help you extract more value from your commercial property. Please get in touch to discuss your circumstances and assets so that we can give you personalised advice. Whether it’s commercial leasing, management or sales, we’re here to help you with your Sydney-based commercial property.
Contact us at Ray White Commercial Sydney City Fringe