Sydney insurance broker Daniel Johnson never thought he would be the proud owner of a 30-metre water tower north of Adelaide’s CBD.
But when he happened across a print ad for the property while travelling interstate, there wasn’t a doubt in his mind that he wanted it.
“I saw the property advertised in the [Prestige] property section of the Fin Review on a flight between Sydney and Melbourne the week before the auction.
“It had a very different price point to anything in Sydney and it just leapt out at us … it’s awesome. It was as simple as that,” he said.
Despite never physically inspecting the unique property in Semaphore, 14 kilometres north of Adelaide’s CBD, Mr Johnson sent a colleague to the auction to bid for him while he listened over the phone.
In front of a crowd of about 300 people, Mr Johnson’s colleague emerged as the winning bidder, securing the building for $1.2 million.
“Everyone seems to know the Semaphore water tower so it’s exciting to be associated with something like that.
“It’s in the list of oldest buildings in and [we wanted] the opportunity to own something so historic and iconic.”
Built in 1880, the tower has been refitted as a three-bedroom home spread across seven levels.
The top floor has 360-degree views of the city and coast and features a dramatic family mural painted by previous owners Manfred and Beverly Stibr.
The Stibrs bought the tower in 1973 and moved in permanently several years later.
The couple, whose grandson Ben Ali was the vendor of the sale, also fitted stained-glassed windows throughout the property. Related: Adelaide: Lower house prices, better quality of life make it ‘almost irresistible’Related: Seven of the coolest house conversions from around the worldRelated: Old flight control tower in Sweden turned into holiday let
Being so close to the coastline the building has suffered salt-damage over the years and requires repairs.
The property also has two self-contained units that Mr Johnson is planning to rent out.
Mr Johnson will be flying in next week to see the property for the first time and decide on its future.
“To actually see it will help give us a bit of a sense of the space and the possibilities.
“The most important thing for us is to restore some of its former glory, get it fixed up and make it available for people to use,” he said.
“I think a short-stay business is a really good way to do that.”
Selling agent Nick Psarros from Ray White Port Adelaide was stunned by the size of the crowd that came to the auction.
“I reckon half of Semaphore came down to watch,” he said.
Bidding opened at $1 million and became a contest between three registered bidders.
Mr Psarros said Mr Johnson was not the only interstate investor interested in the tower.
“We’re getting a lot of people from Melbourne and Sydney buying Adelaide property at the moment.
“We’re starting to see a bit of a trend of people going after character properties that are still at a more affordable price point,” he said.