Church’s Mission in Business

Oct 18th, 2017

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Article by:
Helen Sheild - The West Australian

Photography:
The West Australian

The Uniting Church in WA has unashamedly incorporated its commercial property holdings into its mission, declaring it is proudly generating income to help it deliver outcomes.

Uniting Church in the City General Manager, Neil Starkie, said "The church needed to take a business-like approach to its assets to ensure it supported its mission and outreach programs. Mr Starkie, speaking about future possibilities for the upcoming 13,000sqm vacancy in the B-grade Wesley Quarter tow­ers which will be created when Rio Tinto vacates at the end of next year", said the church was happy to put its money where its mouth was.

It had installed solar panels on the tower roof to reduce power costs, and rainwater tanks in the basement providing water to flush toilets in its new end-of­ trip facility and was engaging street artists and young people to paint art on the walls.

"It's a church that practises what it preaches," Mr Starkie said, adding that it was commit­ted to exploring innovation.

"We are doing what we need to do from a commercial property per­spective in a way that can (have a positive) impact on someone's life. That's not just sustaining God's creation, it's  the right thing to do."

Lease Equity's, Luke Pavlos, who has taken up the challenge of finding a tenant for 13,000sqm of B-grade space in a city already blessed with abundant higher-grade vacancy, said the church was planning a rooftop garden above the low-rise tower. This could include a running track, vegetables, barbecue, seating and meeting areas but would be designed depending o­n the needs of the tenant, which could, for example, be an educational institution, or student accommodation.

The church brought in bee­ hives about a year ago and col­lected 19kg of honey in its first harvest.

The Wesley Tower at 93-95 William Street has two office spaces, a 10-storey tower and a three-level L-shaped building that are part of the Wesley Quar­ ter development, which includes heritage-listed Queens Building and the Wesley Church.

A $150 million 2009 overhaul transformed the ground floor retail precinct, now home to brands including Alannah Hill, Review, Lorna Jane, Industrie, G-Star and Aquila, and created massive floor plates of up to 3,456sqm across the combined levels one and two.

The lower rise building has a total of 5,020sqm across two lev­els, but this rises to 6,784sqm if the space on level one and two of the taller 7,055sqm, 10-storey tower is taken into account. The tower floor plates are about 880sqm.

The building, on the corner of Hay and William streets, is close to public transport, has a 4.5star NABERs rating, and is in the middle of the city, close to Yagan Square and a short walk from Elizabeth Quay.

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