Churches for Sale

Converted Church

Converted Church

In western Europe it is no longer extraordinary to see old churches transformed into libraries, galleries, shops, restaurants or pubs, but in Poland it is still shocking. Yet such conversion of once sacred sites for commercial functions can prove a rescue for many dilapidated buildings. It provides investors with a new opportunity to earn attractive return rates, while saving architecture of historical interest. Increasing secularisation entails the need to tackle derelict buildings abandoned when they stopped functioning as churches. Such historic structures, often situated in attractive locations and offering large surfaces undivided by internal walls, typically face three scenarios: they can be adjusted to fulfil new functions, fall into ruin or be demolished. When admitted to normal real estate trading, they appear as offers of both commercial and residential property. Indeed, the potential hidden in high vaults, stone floors and massive entrance portals seems to open up endless possibilities. In Poland a building which ceased to be used for religious purposes may be bought at a price equivalent to that of a medium-size apartment in a big city. Unfortunately, its condition will probably be so poor that its renovation and subsequent conversion will require considerable capital. What’s more, the expenditures are not the only barrier: the prospect of a difficult collaboration with the relevant conservator tends to discourage prospective investors. Wrongly, according to Adam Urbuś from Be Happy Historic Real Estate Agency. “Listing a building in the register of monuments often even facilitates the process. If the renovation meets conservation requirements, you can obtain significant subsidies to finance it. Structures dating back to the 13th century have huge potential and such offers are most numerous in Lower Silesia and West Pomerania,” explains Urbuś. In his opinion, Polish investors show little interest in such investments. Given the low liquidity of this market, buyers who acquire a crumbling ruin at a bargain price are often saddled with it, so they need to have a sound business plan beforehand. It is advisable to hire experienced architects able to accurately assess the condition of the structure and suggest appropriate solutions accordingly. Technical challenges include both devising ways of heating the interior within its stone walls and more taxing tasks such as making sure there are no tombs left in the crypts or in the immediate surroundings. Old church buildings in Poland are still more likely to provide timber storage space than to house commercial facilities, but there are exceptions such as EL Gallery Art Centre in a former Dominican church in Elbląg or a former synagogue in Inowłódz now accommodating a library and grocery shop.
Puls Biznesu

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