Old church with tower for sale

ALEX FENSOME
Last updated 05:00 30/06/2014

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Wellington

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A church that has stood over Newtown for more than 130 years is for sale and could become apartments.

The former St James Presbyterian Church in Adelaide Rd, Wellington, was still being used for services in November last year but is now for sale as a potential property development.

The church dates from 1882, when a group of Presbyterians raised £190 to build a school house on the site. The current wooden building dates from the early 1900s.

However, it is earthquake-prone and the congregation could not meet the cost of strengthening it for the 21st century.

Wellington developer Sheryl Gulliver bought the building last year after her interest was piqued, driving past it every day during a project in Island Bay.

She planned for a five-apartment complex designed by Novak + Middleton Architects, which has already been given consent by Wellington City Council.

However, she wanted to test the market and see if anyone had other ideas, hence the sale.

"I haven't done anything on this scale before. I've done new build townhouses and renovated heritage buildings but not to this size. Other people think there could be room for up to seven apartments."

Under heritage protection, the exterior had to keep its look and character, she said, and the church had to be strengthened up to 100 per cent of code.

"The main earthquake issue was that it's a big shell of a building and doesn't have any supporting internal structure. It needs someone to convert it."

The bell tower would be restored and turned into the centrepiece of the complex.

Advertising material said the building was "an outstanding example of 19th century craftsmanship".

It has "extensive native timbers, ornate rafters, a large rose window, stained leadlights and an impressive bell tower" with a 448 square metre floor area.

Wellington Presbytery incoming moderator Clare Lind said the building was sold early last year because it no longer met the congregation's needs.

"Following a special service to mark the closure of the congregation and removal of sacred items, people from St James moved to worship at other nearby parishes.

"We are glad to see that St James is getting a new lease on life. It is a distinctive building and it is good that it won't be lost to Newtown."

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- The Dominion Post

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