Craigston apartment back on the market

by AF

A 2-bedroom apartment (3 if you include the sunroom) in Spring Hill’s ‘Craigston’ was listed for tender earlier this month but is back on the market with an open house on September 1. This 150 sqm apartment originally covered the entire 1st floor but was split into two units some time ago. See below for images of this unit.

Craigston was built in 1928 and at the time was Brisbane’s first high-rise apartment building. The Spanish-Mission style building is located on Wickham Terrace in Brisbane’s Spring Hill, and overlooks King Edward Park and the historic Old Windmill (the oldest surviving building in Queensland). It was designed by architect Arnold Conrad, who was a partner at Conrad Gagett Architecture, and developed by a doctor as a building that would house doctors and their families, while providing clinics on the ground floor. Many clinics still operate from the 1st floor.

A sketch of the building in 1926

In 1926, a sketch of the proposed building was published in The Brisbane Courier, along with the following article on the building:

The project is new to Brisbane – the application of co-operative ownership – although it has been applied with success in other parts of the world, including Sydney. It is understood that the scheme provides for each shareholder in the company to purchase his own floor in the building, which has been designed with an eye on climate conditions. The company will own the land and the building. Its objects will not be the acquisition of profits, but the providing of a home for the shareholder concerned. Each block of shares will entitle the holder to the tenancy of a definite floor or area; thus security of tenure will be provided.

Management will be vested in the shareholders, who will have a voice in everything that is done in relation to expenditure and management of the building. Levies will be made from time to time to cover the cost of such items as rates and taxes, insurance, etc.

Those interested will thus provide for themselves accommodation conveniently situated in the city, the cost of which would be much less than would be the case if they relied upon their own individual efforts.

– The Brisbane Courier, 30 October 1926

Craigston under construction in 1928. The balconies (now sunrooms) are visible. Image from the State Library of Queensland.

The residents’ entrance is via a garden path to the left of the building. Several upgrades including intercom and security have been installed since then, but the original mailboxes, although no longer in use, are still displayed by the entrance.

The building features a tiled roof, rooftop terrace, fireplaces on each floor, and an elevator. While the elevator mechanism is modern, the original Queensland Silky Oak car and cage are original.

The 8-storey building originally housed 7 apartments – one apartment per floor, with servants quarters at the rear. A narrow service entrance still remains, separating the staff quarters from the householders.

The sunrooms on the right corner were originally open balconies, but at one point they were all enclosed. Heritage-listing followed soon after which meant no alterations could be made to the exterior, and the sunrooms could not be converted back to balconies.

Mrs. F. Z. Eager in her home in Craigston. The living room is visible behind the glass doors. The Courier Mail, 27July, 1936.

There is also a 280 sqm full-floor apartment listed for sale on the 5th floor. It has had some major alterations and many of the original features are gone. The price was recently dropped from $2.5 million+ to offers over $2 million.

In 1954, a 3-bedroom front flat was listed for sale at £8600, which is about $265,000 in today’s money (using the RBA’s inflation calculator).

As described in the 1926 article above, apartments in this building are on company title, so it is not a typical real estate transaction. The purchase contract is simply a contract to buy the amount of shares allocated to that apartment. This means buyers avoid real estate transfer duty (stamp duty), which would normally be as much as $83,500 on a $2 million purchase for an owner-occupier. It also means that other shareholders must approve the purchaser, and they almost always do.

Anzac Square, Central Station, and Craigston (top left) in 1955. Image from the National Library of Australia.

Images of Craigston and Apartment 1F (although it is really on the 2nd floor):