The historic St Patrick's Basilica is to undergo restoration work and in the next month or two the presbytery next door will be demolished to make way for a public park.
Work has started on refurbishing the St Patrick's School building, which will become the headquarters for the Catholic Social Services agency.
It will have two large rooms available for community groups and a playground at the rear of the building.
St Patrick's redevelopment committee chairman Sean Toomey said the parish had decided about three years ago it would become "outward looking" rather than focus on what went on within its walls.
The community park and community rooms were an essential part of that strategy, providing a place for people to relax, have a barbecue or just read a book, sheltered from the wind.
Dunedin City Council consents had been granted and historic considerations were taken care of, so all that remained was to get started on the project.
They had enough funds to demolish the presbytery, construct a raised lawn, plant some trees and take down the front wall. That work should be finished in January.
After that they would be looking for more ideas, donations and input from anyone interested in the project.
"South Dunedin is clearly missing an open space with green space. It [St Patrick's] is not exactly dead centre of South Dunedin but it is not too far off it."
The Basilica itself would be restored to near its original state although it would never be completed as the architects had first envisaged.
Mr Toomey said the Basilica was originally going to be "extremely ornate" with a dome and wings on each side but had never been completed.
Later additions such as the front porch and the mezzanine inside would be removed.