A 1940s church hall born again as a divine house has become St Kilda West’s priciest residence, fetching $7.5 million in an off-market deal.
The sprawling residence at 16 Cowderoy St tempted a buyer just before Christmas to foreshadow a prosperous year for St Kilda’s property market, Wilson Agents managing director Graeme Wilson said.
Mr Wilson said the buyer snapped up the former house of worship — which is just steps from the St Kilda foreshore — as a home for his family on the same day he first saw it.
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The buyer was inquiring about a different property that was no longer available when Wilson agents pointed him towards the rare listing, which the agency had only quietly advertised on its own website.
“It ticked every box they were looking for,” Mr Wilson said.
CoreLogic records show the $7.5 million deal was easily a residential record for St Kilda West, with the seaside suburb’s next highest reported price being $5.2 million achieved by an Edwardian on more than 1100sq m at 231 Canterbury Rd.
The sale also trumped St Kilda East’s benchmark, held by a $7.328 million nine-bedroom mansion at 10 Bickhams Court since 2013, and St Kilda’s, set at $6 million by a four-bedroom house at 42 Robe St, according to CoreLogic.
Mr Wilson said the sellers had engaged architect George Hatzisavas to convert the more than 80-year-old church into a house about a decade ago, adding a four-level modern extension on to the original building.
The home features a warehouse-style interior characterised by steel beams, recycled timbers and stainless-steel finishes.
Mr Wilson said the property offered up to five bedrooms in a “dormitory wing” plus multiple studio spaces, with the latter notably attracting the buyer’s artist partner.
The open-plan living and dining area was a standout feature with striking church windows, built-in bookshelves, a jetmaster fireplace and a gourmet kitchen containing a 3m marble bench and a butler’s pantry.
Also part of the package were parents’ and children’s retreats, a central courtyard, barbecue terrace, lift and off-street parking.
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Mr Wilson said the sale was a positive precursor for the St Kilda market in 2019, despite predictions of further property price falls for broader Melbourne.
“The sentiment is pretty good,” he said.
“The Espy (Hotel Esplanade) renovation and reopening has been really positive for the area. I’m sure there’ll be a flow-on effect for nearby traders on Fitzroy St.”
Rich lister Tim Gurner’s $580 million residential redevelopment of the beachside former Novotel hotel has also been flagged as a potential market booster for the area.