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Thinking outside the box to turn Brisbane church into a home



It was the sense of scale and history that drew award-winning architect James Russell to the Fortitude Valley Wesleyan Church and church hall.

Located in the middle of Brisbane’s bustling urban heart, the 1888-built, heritage-listed church had the craftsmanship, materials and soaring majesty of a future home.

Far from a cookie-cutter suburban home, the church and church hall mark the substantial buildings prospective homeowners are looking for as a point of difference in the luxury property market.

“Both of them, they’re both buildings that were built beautifully,” James says. “They’re both buildings that were built to be around for 100 years. The materials are beautiful, the way it is put together is considered and not part of a fashionable approach to design.

“In another 20 years they will still be gorgeous buildings.”

The former Robin Dods architecture award winner undertook an extensive restoration and renovation of the Brookes Street properties, converting the free Gothic structure into a three-bedroom courtyard home, with a separate commercial office and coffee-shop tenancy in the adjacent building.

“To have that heritage, or be between two heritage buildings, it is a lovely guide because it gives you a great start process,” James says. “Like an interesting or tricky site process, it makes a building more grounded.”

The church was designed by James Cowlishaw, who created many notable Brisbane buildings, including the Brisbane Grammar School hall and stately residences Oakwal in Windsor and Hanworth in East Brisbane.

James and his young family lived in the church component of the home for their first four years of ownership. “Lying down to sleep at night under a 14m ceiling, living in there was beautiful.”

Now reluctantly up for sale, the converted home is a being sold ­either as two separate titles, or in one line.

Further south in Yass Valley, in the NSW Southern Tablelands, after a decade and $2 million of renovation costs, the labour of love has reached the end for ­Karina Jitts.

The owner of the heritage-listed sprawling Old Linton property has spent years slowly upgrading the 1850s home of sheep baron AB Triggs’ to its former glory, complete with a full dining hall, commercial kitchen, ballroom, formal lounge, library, breakfast room and walled heritage-listed rose garden.

“It’s so beautiful to look at and it has a real presence,” she says.

“I love the symmetry of the house. The number of beautiful woods in the house and the number of leadlights, those characteristics you don’t get in modern houses anymore: the very tall ceilings, the cedar around the walls, yellowbox flooring, the highly polished floors, the long dining hall that seats 45 to 50 people.

“It has some amazing rooms.”

The sprawling Old Linton property in Yass Valley, in the NSW Southern Tablelands.

Some smaller rear rooms in the eight-bedroom main home are still yet to be finished, but Karina and her family want to downsize since their children have left the coop and they had reached retirement age.

Katrina says previous owners had used the property as a wedding venue or accommodation provider but they had only kept the house as a residence.

In Brisbane, a private family is selling a six-apartment art deco block in inner city New Farm in its first trade since it was built in 1936.

LJ Hooker agent Brett Greensill says it was purpose built for the family as an investment property that has been retained for 81 years. The units were available for individual rental but have never been strata titled.

Featuring distinctive solid brick construction, overhanging eaves and bay windows, the building has all the features of the art deco period.

“It has remained in the family from generation to generation,” he says. “This is the first time it has been offered for sale.”

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Brisbane’s penthouse listing of 2018 hits the market



brisbane penthouse
A property billed as “Brisbane’s biggest penthouse listing of 2018” has hit the market, as demand for ultra-luxurious sky homes in Queensland’s capital shows no sign of slowing.

One of Brisbane’s very first sky homes, at 801/8 Kyabra Street, Newstead, has been transformed from an empty shell into a penthouse, which marketing agent Tom Lyne, of Ray White New Farm, described as “next level”.

Mr Lyne said listings of this quality and style were rare in Queensland.

brisbane penthouse
801/8 Kyabra Street, Newstead. Photo: Ray White New Farm.

“This is a property you’d see in Los Angeles or Sydney,” he said. “It’s pushing the boundaries in terms of what has been on the market in Brisbane before.”

The three-level apartment not only offers five bedrooms and bathrooms over a staggering 962 square metres, but also an extraordinary roof-top terrace complete with outdoor dining, an open fire pit and manicured gardens all serviced by a large wet bar.

As well as a heated infinity edge swimming pool and spa on the middle level, the roof-top views across Brisbane have to be seen to be believed.

brisbane penthouse
Views like no other: 801/8 Kyabra Street, Newstead. Photo: Ray White New Farm.

Owner Jordana Stott spent eight months designing every aspect of the property’s interior and roof-top, and admits the views will be sorely missed when she moves on to her next project.

“Just being able to crack a bottle of wine and sit in your private garden and look at that view is pretty spectacular. That’s something that we will miss. We love that part of the property,” she said.

The couple chose a penthouse over a house because of the plethora of lifestyle amenities right on their door step, she said.

At the time, she said, they wanted to be able to walk to restaurants and enjoy everything that Newstead had to offer.

“Being in Newstead, it’s such a new little hub that’s really booming at the moment. You’re so close to everything, but you also then get the luxury of having the privacy of your own lawn in a sky home – that’s very special,” she said.

“It’s really cool for Brisbane. It’s one of the first that’s coming through.

“Brisbane is really coming into its own. I think we’ll start seeing more sky homes, especially with the new casino being built.”

The first of two penthouses in the luxurious development 443 Queen Street recently sold off the plan for more than $6 million, making it one of the most expensive apartments ever sold in Brisbane. Agents have reported a shortage of stock in the luxury apartment market.

brisbane penthouse
A bedroom with a rather nice view at 801/8 Kyabra Street, Newstead. Photo: Ray White New Farm.

Mr Lyne said one of the Newstead penthouse’s many features was that the seventh level was completely self-contained.

“It’s extremely unique to Brisbane, probably Queensland for that matter,” he said.

“We’re getting a good cross-section of people who are specifically looking for a penthouse, but also buyers who may have been considering quite a high-end house locally, or on the river, who are now considering this because it’s over three levels.”

The property is scheduled to go to auction on Tuesday, November 13, at Ray White New Farm’s Auction Under the Stars event starting at 6pm at X Cargo.

brisbane penthouse
That rooftop: 801/8 Kyabra Street, Newstead. Photo: Ray White New Farm.

Features include:

Unrivalled city views, private infinity edge swimming pool, rooftop terrace and garden;

First level leads to four private bedrooms, two bathrooms, media room and kitchen;

Versace and gold cork wallpaper and bespoke Timothy Oulton chandeliers;

Double showers in every bathroom;

Two kitchens each with a butler’s pantry and double oven;

Multiple formal and informal entertaining and al fresco areas;

Gas fireplace in living area and outdoor fireplace on rooftop;

Two fully equipped wet bars;

Dressing room;

Alarm system;

Three large car parks and storage;

Built-in garden maintenance room;

Lift servicing each level;

Metres from top lifestyle precincts popular for great restaurants, shops and boutiques.

brisbane penthouse
801/8 Kyabra Street, Newstead. Photo: Ray White New Farm.
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Acreage blocks are selling hot at Yatala




PIES aren’t the only things selling hot at Yatala — with acreage property flying off the market.

Doleman Property Group director Donna Doleman said this property, a four bedroom, two bathroom, lowset brick house on 5058sq m attracted about 30 groups and two written offers.


REAL ESTATE: 14 Alto Tce, YatalaSource:Supplied

“The new owners were devastated when they first saw it because it was under contract,” Ms Doleman said.

“When that contract fell over, it all fell into place for them.”

Ms Doleman said the new owners liked the location, the flat land and the house.

“They’re investors who will rent it out and move into it in about three years time,” she said.

The agent said acreage stock such as the property at 14 Alto Tce, which sold for $859,000, was in high demand.


REAL ESTATE: 14 Alto Tce, YatalaSource:Supplied

“Acreage is going unbelievably well,” she said.

“People are looking for bigger properties to get a bit of space between neighbours.

“I’d definitely like to see more stock, there is definitely not enough in the acreage market.”

According to CoreLogic data, the suburb median house sale price for Yatala is $739,000.


REAL ESTATE: 14 Alto Tce, YatalaSource:Supplied


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Brisbane council’s ban on townhouses, apartments in low density areas is ‘backwards’



Brisbane council's ban on townhouses, apartments in low density areas is 'backwards'

PHOTO: Brisbane City Council wants to stop townhouses and apartments being built in areas for single homes.(ABC RN: David Lewis)

A Brisbane City Council plan to stop townhouses and apartments being built in areas for single homes is “going backwards” in terms of urban planning, experts say.
University of Queensland Urban Planning expert Dr Dorina Pojani said the Lord Mayor’s attempt to “save the Brisbane backyard” could drive up property prices.

“If you have more apartment buildings in neighbourhoods it means that you have higher densities in those neighbourhoods,” Dr Pojani said.

“With higher densities you can support much better public transport, if you have very low densities … then public transport will never become viable.

Council’s opposition planning spokesman, Jared Cassidy, described it as “a multi-million-dollar mea culpa”.

“The same Lord Mayor who has waved through the worst developments in Brisbane’s history is now claiming he’s saving the backyard,” he said.

Dr Pojani said restricting the type of housing in certain neighbourhoods would just drive prices “through the roof”, and it had already produced “disastrous results” in the United States.

“We’re already in the middle of a housing crisis in Australia so it’s the opposite of what we need at the moment.”

“It’s caused urban sprawl, it’s caused problems with access to housing because housing prices end up being very expensive if you can’t have the higher densities that apartments provide,” Dr Pojani said.

“It makes neighbourhoods more homogeneous because there’s only certain people that can afford family homes.

“Now that we’ve seen all that of that experience from overseas we go and do the same thing in Australia, that’s very disappointing. It’s almost like going backwards.”

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said the plan was about creating a city of neighbourhoods “to protect the Brisbane backyard”, with more than 100,000 people responding to the Plan Your Brisbane campaign.

“It’s about stopping the cookie-cutter style of townhouses in some cases that we have seen in our city,” Cr Quirk said.

Brisbane council's ban on townhouses, apartments in low density areas is 'backwards'
 Experts say the plan will drive up property prices. (Giulio Saggin: ABC News)

He said 40 action plans had been developed, which would not contribute further to urban sprawl.

“People said they wanted the growth to occur around the inner-city areas, along transport corridors, and around the regional business centres and nothing has changed in that regard,” Cr Quirk said.

“What they do want though is greater protections in those single-dwelling areas of the city, that’s come through loud and clear and that will be provided.”

He said the council would also develop a new forum for residents to help guide the preservation of tradition designs, like the Queenslander.

Mr Cassidy hit out at the Lord Mayor’s close relationship with developers at the expense of residents.

“Brisbane’s had a gutful of the orgy of over-development,” he said.

“The same Lord Mayor who cut the number of car parks that unit developers have to provide is now trying to pretend someone else did it.

“The same Lord Mayor who has waved through the worst developments in Brisbane’s history is now claiming he’s saving the backyard.”


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