There was a period in Perth where development and redevelopment were so fast paced that many valuable heritage properties were left so decrepit that they would ultimately be sanctioned for demolition.

Developers were hesitant to touch historic fabric due to the risks and unforeseen costs compared to the low cost, high profit ‘cookie-cutter’ buildings that were materialising across the City.

Match was born in the thick of this era. We were young and passionate about saving Perth streetscapes from bland, investor-driven apartment buildings. We wanted to build a legacy of design-centric projects that would bring interest and diversity to the landscape.

Adopting heritage rejuvenations into our portfolio was a natural fit and relatively easy to acquire based on the lack of industry interest.

Match became a trailblazer for heritage renewal projects in Perth and our work in this area today extends to property designs that pay homage to the site’s former use or the significance of the location, such as M/24 by Match in Leederville, Metropolitan in Mount Lawley, Sublime in North Fremantle and Johnson & James in Guildford.

A brief overview of Match’s heritage projects:

Corner of Milligan & Murray Streets, Perth

HOME still stands as one of Perth’s most impressive heritage renewals and a turning point that triggered many more heritage restoration projects throughout WA.

The 1927 warehouse building was introduced by the tobacco giant, W.D. & H.O. Wills and originally designed by local architects Oldham, Boas & Ednie-Brown; a firm reputed for over specifying to achieve design quality. It was constructed with reinforced concrete behind a beautiful facade, it is an excellent example of ‘Interwar Chicago-esque’ architecture featuring decorative mushroom columns unique to the era.

Match transformed this landmark site into 30 warehouse apartments, 37 adjoining terrace apartments and boutique commercial space, retaining some 95% of original heritage fabric, including a unique structural system that introduced the first mushroom headed slab on large diameter concrete columns constructed in Perth.

919 Beaufort Street, Inglewood

The Clocktower was originally built in 1936 in an architectural style known as ‘Inter-War Art Deco’. It was later used as the Civic Theatre Restaurant before being left largely unoccupied for many years.

The highly sensitive heritage rejuvenation project effectively transformed a local landmark into a boutique complex incorporating 28 apartments and four retail shops.

Specialist work was also required to locate a clock expert with the correct credentials to resurrect the signature clock, which was restarted in February 2008

Corner of Whatley Crescent and Eighth Avenue, Maylands

Maymont represents a major milestone for Maylands on a site that had been left decrepit for some time. The vision was to create a heart for the area and drive the inner-city culture to the area’s main strip, with architecture reminiscent of its hey-day in the 1920s. While much of the building’s structure could not be preserved due to many years of neglect, Match restored the heritage façades and introduced 42 apartments and 16 commercial spaces. The restoration program would be the start of the beautification process for Maylands, creating what is a today a hub of cafes, restaurants and bars.

36 Queen Victoria Street, Fremantle

Unquestionably one of Perth’s most significant heritage renewal projects in modern times, Heirloom is the award-winning heritage restoration of Fremantle’s iconic old Dalgety Woolstores, which sat largely unused for some 20 years.

The prominent structure located on Fremantle Harbour created a high-profile gateway to the City along Queen Victoria Street. It holds an important place in the City’s history and is most famous for its saw-tooth roof, classic red brickwork and 100-year old Jarrah beams.

The $130 million redevelopment leveraged the existing structure to create 183 spacious one and two-bedroom warehouse apartments, retaining over 85% of the original heritage fabric.

What were the key factors that drew you to these properties?

As a boutique apartment developer, Match works on the premise that the long-term investment value of a property is determined by its uniqueness and limited supply.

The simple fact is that you cannot manufacture heritage fabric and people will pay a premium for being able to acquire something distinctive and irreplaceable.

Location is, of course, always a factor, and when combined with a depth of character and history, we strongly believe these projects are worth the investment.

There was some time that developers wouldn’t go near heritage buildings because of all of the conditions surrounding it – what changed and did this influence your appetite for heritage?  

In a development era that could be easily defined by its lack of sensitivity to good design and the legacy this would have on Perth’s streetscapes, there was certainly a case for ‘testing the water’.

It was new territory for most developers and, as a young company on a mission to disrupt the status quo, we took on highly ambitious heritage projects and were able to demonstrate both demand and return on investment.

Our success was supported by global shifts towards apartment living and a number of high-profile warehouse renewals around the world. Buyers were starting to view apartments as a lifestyle choice and developers needed to meet this market with unique and appealing propositions.

As a developer, what are the benefits and what are the challenges of developing heritage properties?

It is truly humbling and often breathtaking to see heritage fabric restored and repurposed for 21st century use.

The architectural values and depth of character inherent in these properties are timeless and, quite frankly, magnificent. Many discoveries can be made throughout the construction process that can add to the building’s story, such as an original wool-bale hoist and a railway track uncovered in the basement of Heirloom.

However, any adaptation of a retained building needs to satisfy current codes, modern facilities and environmental standards. This sometimes presents challenges for our architects to accommodate such requirements without compromising the usability, functionality, originality or attractiveness of the property.

At the Home building, our architects needed to work around enormous mushroom headed columns, and Heirloom, where services were ultimately hidden in a false flooring structure so that the Jarrah roofing and original beams could be exposed.

Are heritage projects more attractive for buyers?

Our experience is that the market is attracted to high quality, unique and boutique product which is much more enduring than that of high density, standardised developments.

Well executed heritage renewals elicit an emotional response and sense of connection that is so important in property sales. We find that people are really excited about owning an apartment that has heritage features that cannot be duplicated.

This was evidenced in the early release of Heirloom ‘off-the-plan’ apartments, which exceeded rigorous sales targets with over 70% of apartments selling prior to the commencement of construction.

There will always be a market that values heritage product over anything else.

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