We’re relocating to Riversdale Road, Box Hill South, in March 2020. Read on to find out more!
What’s this all about?
In May 2015, St Paul’s Church Council asked a small group of members, the Strategic Property Group (SPG), to examine the emerging difficulties arising from the exploding property developments around the current church, particularly the problem with parking. Four and a half years later we have sold our church and bought another one, with plans for substantial further re-development well under way.
What are the issues with the current location?
A survey of the congregation in 2015 found that worshippers were already finding it more difficult to travel along Station Street and find a convenient park. High-rise property developments were underway all around, with more skyscrapers and other developments currently planned or underway in Box Hill. The parking and access issues were inevitably going to get worse.
Nevertheless, we were enthusiastic about the witness of our location in central Box Hill. However, discussions with advisors and architects indicated the only way St Paul’s could provide adequate parking at Station Street was to partner with a developer and build a high-rise complex, incorporating the church sanctuary on the ground and mezzanine levels, with parking in basement levels.
But problems started to emerge with various risks, owner’s corporation concerns, potential disruption to ministry during the several years of construction, and potential access problems to the car park. The SPG asked consulting traffic engineers how we could possibly resolve some of the issues, and their answer was: you may have to face the fact that this will be a difficult site for a church.
How did you find a new church?
The SPG had explored the option to relocate, but found no viable options despite inspecting eight other sites within the Box Hill area. And then, in October 2016, they heard that the St James Uniting Church site at 1201-1205 Riversdale Road may be coming onto the market.
Amazingly, the church was in the Box Hill area and included a 50-space car park opposite the church as well as nearby on-street parking. Other things just seemed to fall into place.
- The St James church exterior was heritage listed, meaning it was less attractive to competing developers (confirmed by valuations).
- Our own site underwent two favourable changes to local zoning, meaning we could afford to move and redevelop the St James site to our own requirements.
- In October 2017, our congregation voted by an overwhelming 90% to pursue a relocation option. This was also supported by the Chinese Lutheran Church, with whom we share partnership in our Mandarin mission in Box Hill.
What were the details of the purchase?
Our prayers were answered in March 2018 when we received an invitation to submit an offer to buy the St James site off-market. A few weeks of negotiations followed, and we eventually purchased the property for $6.55 million. Contracts were exchanged, and final settlement occurred in October 2018.
We were also able to buy the neighbouring property at 1207 Riversdale Road at auction – giving us options for the future, including during the transition period before the whole new development is complete.
Have you sold the current site?
Yes! In October 2018, the Station Street site (including the church and manse) was sold for $29.5 million to Early Light International (Holdings) Limited, a large private company headquartered in Hong Kong.
The settlement period was four months, but we negotiated a ‘licence to remain’ at Station Street until March 2020.
We don’t know for sure what the buyer will do with the site, but it’s likely it will be a mixture of commercial, retail and residential development.
Given you sold the manse, did you buy another one?
In October 2018 we purchased a new manse at 113 Lake Road, Blackburn. The purchase was settled in January 2019, just a few days before our new Senior Pastor Neville Otto and Sue arrived to join us at St Paul’s.
So what’s next?
In November 2018 we appointed Law Architects as our Master Planners, Designers and Project Managers, after a rigorous selection process.
We separated the Relocation Project into two main sub-projects:
- Refurbishment of the existing heritage-listed church (Project A)
- Re-development of the remainder of the site (Project B)
The church refurbishment (Project A) was approved by the congregation at a special meeting in April 2019, master plans and designs were approved and tenders invited. The tender was awarded to Harris HMC, and the refurbishment project is well underway. Completion is expected in March 2020.
Designs for the re-development of the remainder of the site (Project B) are being completed, in preparation for congregational approval, permit applications and an eventual call for tenders and then the construction.
When are you moving?
We’re planning to move into our new church at Riversdale Road in March 2020. The final services at Station Street are planned for 1 March 2020, followed by lunch and a de-consecration rite. We will then walk down Station Street to Riversdale Road, carrying our worship and sacramental items (a transit bus will also be available). Worship services during the first weeks at Riversdale Road will be in the old hall, before we can move into the completed church – currently expected to be some time in April 2020.
A series of services of Thanksgiving and Lament are planned at Station Street as we say prepare to say farewell, at the 8.30am and 10.30am services on these Sundays:
Sunday 2 Feb: Baptism Remembrance Day
Sunday 9 Feb: Marriage Celebration and Youth Reunion
Sunday 16 Feb: Past Pastors’ Day, and Remembrance of Saints of St Paul’s
Sunday 23 Feb: 8.30am Confirmation Remembrance Day, and 10.30am Final Confirmation Service at Station Street
Sunday 1 Mar: Final Services at Station Street, followed by Lunch and De-Consecration Rite, then Walk to Riversdale Road.
Some people will be excited, some sorrowful, some overwhelmed, and most probably a mixture of all three. We’ve been talking about this for a long time, but it now feels very real. Praise God for His continued guidance and care of us, and for the gift of each other as we unite together in preparation for farewelling our church home and moving to a new one.