Sydney’s first apartment block for sale

The NSW government is continuing its run of selling off public housing in the historic harbourside suburb of Millers Point, with the latest batch of now-empty houses and apartments being listed for sale.
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Among them is what local historians believe is Sydney’s first walk-up apartment building.

With a price guide of $9 million to $9.5 million, it would be the second most expensive Millers Point sale, after a block of 12 apartments at 44-48 Merriman Street and 56-62 Bettington Street sold for $12,300,000 at the end of November 2016.

It was built in 1900 for the musician and publican John Michael Stevens as a high-class boarding house, on the site of the former “Live & Let Live Hotel”, according to the property’s heritage listing.

The director of Pidcock Architecture, Caroline Pidcock, is Steven’s great granddaughter, and her family lived in the area between 1819 – 1912.

“It was built as a replacement to the pub, as it had burned down”, she said. “They decided to replace this building with this – the first apartment for workers in – and a terrace.”

The building was one of many taken over in Millers Point by the State Government after the outbreak of plague in 1900, and Stevens lead a strong and eventually successful campaign to stop his new building being demolished.

A total of 159 properties have been sold so far as part of the NSW government’s controversial program to offload its public housing assets in Millers Point.

A Property NSW spokesman said the timing and grouping of the remaining properties was “commercial in confidence”.

Once the sell-off is complete, Property NSW will have sold about 290 government-owned properties in Millers Point. The sale proceeds are to go to providing more public housing stock, with about 58,000 families on the waiting list in NSW.

“So far, the Millers Point sales program has delivered over $467 million in gross proceeds to fund new social housing dwellings”, the Property NSW spokesman said.

The final eviction notice to government housing tenants in Millers Point was issued earlier in the year, with some residents fighting to stay in their homes.

As of October 27 this year, 572 of the 579 public housing tenants in the Millers Point area, including those living in the Sirius building, had left or were planning to do so shortly. Related: Millers Point sell-off acceleratesRelated: Millers Point terrace highly-rated AirbnbRelated: $35 million windfall from social housing

The evictions have incurred criticism from political figures such as Sydney Greens MP Alex Greenwich, who described it as “social cleansing”, and Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, who said the “community of Millers Point deserves better than this”.

The evictions were also met with protests earlier in the year and opposition from community groups like the Millers Point Residents Action Group.

Comprising 11 apartments in total, the The Stevens Building had enjoyed a strong inquiry rate so far, said agent Richard Shalhoub of Sotheby’s International.

“They’re certainly in need of a cosmetic upgrade,” he said of its apartments. “But the facade is beautiful, it has a lot of character.

“I expect we’ll see interest from the larger scale investors as well as the developer market.”

Another eight Millers Point properties are also being sold by Property NSW at the same time, and are scheduled to go to auction on December 6.

The fate of the nearby Sirius Building is still uncertain, with the NSW state government opting against granting the brutalist apartment block heritage protection in October. It was the second time the building was declined heritage status, after the first decision was overturned by the Land and Environment Court.

The building was recently added to the World Monuments Fund’s 2018 watch list of endangered buildings.

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