Contractor Built is stepping into large-scale urban regeneration – it has signed a joint venture with Liverpool Council for a $400 million-plus mixed-use development to serve the future third CBD of a Greater Sydney in which half the population will live west of Parramatta by 2036.
The four-building, two-stage project on council-owned land is the largest development the privately-owned Built has taken on to date and follows an office development in central Sydney’s Clarence Street, which it sold last year to investor Nuveen (formerly TH Real Estate) for $180 million.
The Liverpool project on the 9300-square-metre site, along with a separate redevelopment of a municipal-owned car park in Sydney’s eastern suburbs that Built is discussing with the Woollahra council, showed there was unmet demand for smaller urban regeneration projects, managing director Brett Mason said.
“There’s a gap in the market,” he said. “There’s opportunity in the market at that level for someone smart to come in and help unlock some problems.”
There has been a growing demand for urban regeneration globally. Last month, development group Lendlease trumpeted a threefold growth in its “urbanisation” pipeline of projects to $81.2 billion as it took skills it had honed with large-scale projects such as Sydney’s Barangaroo to other countries.
In Liverpool’s case, the municipality is rebuilding its town centre to play a key role as part of a third CBD identified by the Greater Sydney Commission, which includes the existing city, the planned Western Sydney Airport 20km away and Camden, Campbelltown and Penrith.
“This is a stunning complex of buildings that is going to serve the community very well,” Liverpool mayor Wendy Waller said.
“I’ve always said we can grow with clever design and Liverpool Civic Place will be one of the jewels in our crown.”
Cr Waller said Liverpool Civic Place was part of more than $1 billion worth big mixed-use developments in the pipeline for the city of Liverpool. These include developer Mackycorp’s 25,000-square-metre Liverpool Quarter office tower and separate plans by the Uniting Church and private landowners for a 3490-square-metre site near Elizabeth and Bigge streets in the CBD.
In the first stage of the project, funded by the city to the tune of $195 million, Built will build and development-manage the construction of a circular 5000-square-metre city library and a separate 17,000-square-metre building that will house the new council offices, council chamber and childcare facilities.
Development approval for the FJMT-designed master plan is still pending but Built hopes to begin construction of stage one mid-next year, with completion expected by mid-2022.
The second stage will comprise a 20,000-square-metre, 24-level commercial tower that could accommodate office or educational and retail space, and a nine-level building slated for use as a hotel or student accommodation.
Mr Mason said Built was talking to potential anchor tenants needing educational and office space. The final make-up of the stage two buildings – which he expects to be completed by 2024 – would depend on the nature of the tenants, he said.
Built will fund early works on the second stage and then look for an institutional investor to acquire the $250-million-plus assets on a fund-through basis that would finance the construction and then give them the completed assets.
“It starts to institutionalise our development business,” Mr Mason said. “We’ve been doing development projects for 20 years. And this is our business evolving using our skill to help unlock assets for our partners like Liverpool.”
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