Grand old church paused for new lease of life

June 7, 2024 BY

With Colliers’ recent listing of the St George church in central Geelong, there is bound to be a great deal of interest from developers looking to craft this unique asset into a landmark project.

The site encompasses a total land area of 8,173sqm, of which 4,500sqm is developable.

With price expectations at about $18 million, Colliers have already engaged planning consultants to come up with options for the diverse site that could help guide investors with possible project outcomes.

Located at 13 Ryrie Street, St George Church carries a lot of architectural history since it was first built in 1861 by architect Nathaniel Billing.

The building was constructed with bluestone and Hawkesbury River freestone dressings and a slate roof with the tower and spire of the church added in 1936.

Located at 13 Ryrie Street, the St George Church site encompasses a total land area of 8,173sqm,


However, since 2015 the church has been vacant, so now is the perfect chance for new custodians to provide a fresh breath of life into the old monument.

Colliers agents Chris Nanni and Ben Young have been appointed to exclusively manage the sale of the heritage building and unlock a unique development site according to the Central Geelong Framework Plan’s guidelines.

The significant property is part of the local council urban planning scheme highlighting 11 strategic development sites supported by a master plan and executed with ministerial approval.

With Geelong being a UNESCO City of Design, and the asset being based within the Cultural Precinct, this opportunity will welcome vibrant ideas supporting education, hospitality, art or cultural mixed-use ventures.

The car park within the grounds is presently being leased to The Gordon and as private parking, which returns approximately $70,000 per annum.


Mr Young said this was an extraordinary development opportunity for Geelong.


“The city continues to see significant CBD developments with the newly finished Quest, Holiday Inn and residential building Ryrie Quarter, all coming to the market over the past 12 months along with the framework plan, which assists the unlocking of some key strategic development sites.

“We are excited to see what St George Church will become.”

According to the Victoria Heritage database, it identifies the Church and Manse as B-grade sites, meaning the sites are of regional importance while the Hall does not.

When unoccupied, empty churches have become an architectural endeavour to find a new purpose.

Around the world, and more especially in Europe, ambitious examples have emerged.

Sheerness Dockyard Church on the Isle of Sheppey, England, was designed in the 1820s by George Ledwell Taylor and has been transformed into a community hub with an exhibition area, café and events space.

In France, the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud, a classified UNESCO World Heritage site, is now a Michelin-star restaurant, hotel and modern art museum, inviting visitors to immerse in 900 years of history.

Closer to home, in Melbourne CBD, an heritage-listed space previously home to the Melbourne stock exchange, has gone through extraordinary renovations to become La Reine & La Rue, a gourmet restaurant with a French flair.

Mr Nanni said Geelong was leaping forward with new and coming projects such as the Geelong Convention & Exhibition Centre, which will feature a 1,000-seat venue, extensive exhibition spaces, meeting rooms, conference facilities and flexible event areas.

“The precinct will also be home to retail spaces for food and beverage offerings, a large public plaza that promises to become a feature of the Geelong waterfront and a 200-room Crowne Plaza hotel.”

St George Presbyterian Church is offered for sale via expressions of interest closing at 2pm on June 26.