The Best Of Sydney's Warehouse Conversions


In true Sydney style, everything old is new again as Sydney’s heritage warehouses receive makeovers in order to transform them into trendy residences with a healthy dose of nostalgia. Typically in Sydney’s inner suburbs, the warehouse conversions boast traditional façades and a touch of old-world charm.

Award-winning architect Philip Thalis of Hill Thalis says the pull of a great warehouse lies in its quality bricks, interesting roof trusses, good windows, timber structures and great positions. Mr Thalis is something of an expert in this area as well, being the mastermind behind the acclaimed adaptation of the old Majestic Theatre in Petersham into 27 apartments.

“They have a rawness and style and authentic fabric and patina,” says Mr Thalis.

[tweet_dis]“These buildings have a gutsy quality of a life lived in another time, which shouldn’t be erased in the conversion by too much styling.”[/tweet_dis]

Warehouse conversions have only become more and more popular as years go by, and Lisa Bradley of buyers agency Finders Keepers thinks that it might have something to do with their increasingly limited supply.

“People love them because they’re so unique and interesting, and they’re often willing to forego some of the luxuries of a newly-built home for them.”

There has also been a trend of leaving behind dreams to live in a particular suburb in order to chase the prospect of a warehouse conversion elsewhere says Ivan Bresic of BresicWhitney agents. Mr Bresic believes that the best warehouses are to be found in Sydney’s inner city suburbs, including Redfern, Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Chippendale, Camperdown, Glebe, Waterloo, Pyrmont and Alexandria

[tweet_box]“These buildings have a gutsy quality of a life lived in another time, which shouldn’t be erased in the conversion by too much styling.”[/tweet_box]

“Buyers of warehouses don’t care about the suburb,” says Mr Bresic.

“Buyers are much more interested in the building itself, and are often prepared to pay a premium for that iconic warehouse feel.”

Experts estimate that the premium paid for warehouse conversions can be 10 to 20 per cent. On average, warehouse conversions are receiving about four times the inquiry rate of a regular home on the market, according to Belle Property agent Scott Aggett, that kind of demand will always raise the price.



CBRE director Murray Wood warns that in the 1990s, some warehouse conversions were of dubious quality. Nowadays though, good architects and builders know exactly how to put in the services and re-use, bolster or supplement the existing framework.

So we pose the question, in a city full of rich heritage architecture, where can we find Sydney’s best warehouse conversions?

Peninsula Apartments, Balmain

These apartments are built within the converted 1920s and 1930s Colgate-Palmolive factory. The building features 110 apartments and townhouses by bokor architecture + interiors, with a public waterfront park right on the doorstep.

The approval for the development was granted by the Land and Environment Court and the development has been praised for its sensitivity to the heritage elements of the existing buildings and their setting.

 Sugarmill Development, Camperdown

Completed in late 2012, the Sugarmill development is right at home in Camperdown where warehouse conversions are not in short supply. This development is a re-working of an old sugar warehouse.

The warehouse is a medium density residential development that has been transformed from an original Art Deco warehouse into a boutique residential complex. Architects Loftex and developers Novati Constructions undertook the development, which was the recipient of the 2013 MBA Excellence in Housing Award for Adaptive Re-use.

The building’s industrial origins remain evident within the boutique apartments and terrace homes. The development included a substantial retention of the external face brick walls of the existing warehouse building, excavation of a basement level below the existing ground level, and the removal of the roof structure to provide a central internal courtyard.


The Boatshed at Lavender Bay

The Lavender Bay Boatshed consists of two three-storey boatsheds abutting one another at the northwestern edge of the bay. The boatsheds were built in the 19ths century and are the last remaining timber structures from the era in this part of Sydney Harbour. Restoration commenced in 2008, and they have been converted into a mix of commercial and residential units in the northern building, and a three-storey residential apartment in the southern building.

The main apartment extends from the lower ground floor to a height of three storeys. A unique feature of the lower ground floor is the glazed floor in the main bedroom, which the harbor extends beneath.

The conversion was designed by Stephen Collier of Collier Architects and built by Building Partners Pty Ltd won the 2012 Sydney Design Award for Residential Architecture.



The Majestic Theatre was built in 1929 as a hub for Sydney’s most entertaining and ribald performers. But developers, with project manager Peter Sukkar, got the go-ahead to demolish the interior to make way for 27 apartments while also retaining the external retro façade.

One apartment has a window shade made of the original corrugate iron Majestic Theatre sign. Another has a walk-in wardrobe with carved architraves from the 1920s.

Other theatres that have undergone the redevelopment treatment are the Rozelle Cinema, and Glebe’s Valhalla Cinema.

The Watertower, Redfern

It would be remiss of us to write about Sydney warehouse conversions and not mention the original building that started one of Sydney’s most significant building trends. The Watertower began the conversion process when it was unheard of to live in a former warehouse, opening on October 18, 1984.

The building is the former McMurties Shoe Factory, which was built in 1903 and was recycled into 65 residential units. The secretary of the owner’s corporation, Max Middleton, said that even though the Watertower was Sydney’s first warehouse conversion, the rustic features that make the conversions appealing today were hidden behind rendering.

“They gyprocked over everything, the bricks and beams were hidden in an attempt to make the place look modern and stylish. They lost a lot of the character of the building in doing so,” Mr Middleton said.

Mr Middleton and his fellow tenants spent several years removing the original gyprock and rendering to expose some of the original rustic features of the former warehouse.

M Central, Pyrmont

M Central has brought new life to R. Goldsbrough & Co’s first Sydney wool store, constructed in 1882 in Pyrmont. The site first became a wool store in 1906 with the construction of the Pitt, Son & Badgery building. The wool store was then converted into a car park in the late 1980’s and also housed the motor museum. The building continued to operate as a car park until its conversion to residential apartments, which were completed in 2005.

The conversion was designed by Dale Jones Evans and Marchese+Partners, and carried out by Hayson Group. The site was chosen because of the wool stores with their soaring ceilings, enormous original warehouse windows and direct access to Darling Harbour.

The finished product was a loft metropolis; a mix of trendy urban New York-style loft apartments, pavilion court penthouses and two storey sky homes. The conversion of the two buildings celebrates the Woolstore’s heritage, with many original features incorporated into the development.


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