March 9, 2021

Pandemic, Industry Changes Alter Church’s Development Plans in Australia

Adventist Record, and Adventist Review

The Greater Sydney Conference (GSC) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia will sell its Epping, New South Wales office building with an option to buy back commercial and car parking space when the site is developed.

During a special constituency meeting in November 2015, GSC members had voted to redevelop the site alongside Southern Han construction company.

“When we first decided to redevelop the Epping conference office back in November 2015, we had envisaged by now that the old conference office would be demolished, the new offices and residential tower would be built, and we would have moved back in and enjoying the new amenities,” said Eva Ing, outgoing chief financial officer for the GSC.

Challenges in the industry and COVID-19 have delayed and slowed the process. Low community confidence in the building quality of high-rise residential towers, after news of other apartment tower scandals, has impacted high-rise unit sales.

“To this end, the Executive Committee, along with advice from the Real Estate Committee and other property advisors, have decided that we will sell the conference office to our developers, Southern Han,” Ing explained.

GSC will sell the conference office to Southern Han with an option to buy back the commercial space and associated car parking for AU$6 million (about US$4,625,000) once the building is complete.

GSC will receive AU$16 million (about US$12,330,000) up front, improving the financial situation of the conference, which has not received any funds from the project yet. The funds will be invested to help with mission. The long-term risk associated with developing the apartment units will be eliminated.

“We only have to expend the AU$6 million when we need to, when we take possession of the commercial space. Independent valuation of the 1,650 square meters of commercial space and 50 car spaces is more than AU$11 million [about US$8,475,000],” Ing said.

“We anticipate the sale of the building will occur [soon]. While this new arrangement is not quite what we had envisaged at the Special Constituency meeting in November 2015, it has the same intended outcome in that the current building would be demolished, the new building will be built by Southern Han, and that the conference office would solely occupy the commercial space in the building.”

GSC staff continue to work out of the Shannon building on the Sydney Adventist Hospital campus until a new conference office is built.

The original version of this story was posted by Adventist Record.