The sale of one of WA socialite Rose Porteous’ office blocks in Sydney’s Double Bay for more than $15 million for redevelopment into a top apartment building has pushed the suburb one step closer to regaining its reputation as the home of the hip and happening.
After languishing in the doldrums for the past 15 years, a surge of new boutique apartments, a makeover of its top hotel, the opening of a $50 million supermarket and the return of exclusive retailers and good restaurants has given the eastern suburb back its mojo.
“Double Bay is now back as a great area,” says CBRE sales executive Esti Gruceta. “There’s so much happening there now, and so much more to come.”
The latest property to exchange hands is the block at 4 Bay Street which was, most famously, the subject of legal action during the battle between Ms Porteous and her step-daughter, Gina Rinehart, over the distribution of Lang Hancock’s estate.
Iron ore magnate Hancock, Ms Rinehart’s father and Ms Porteous’ former husband, died in 1992.
Ms Porteous kept the block after settlement until its sale late last year. Now The Anka Property Group – the developers behind the $200 million Union Balmain apartments, the award-winning Liberty Grove in Concord, Chelsea Apartments in the city, Alta in Surry Hills and the Savoy in the CBD – are understood to be planning its transformation into top-quality apartments.
The property at 4-10 Bay Street, Double Bay, sold by Rose Porteous. Photo: Google
Another new development, a 30-40-apartment building called Essence on New South Head Road, is to be launched for sale off the plan in the next two months by developer Golden Age.
Six months ago, new development The Bay Residences, designed by Kann Finch and developed by Oceania Property on Bay Street, was finally settled and occupied.
House prices in Double Bay have also been given a boost since the $38 million sale of former Multiplex chief turned RF Capital boss Andrew Roberts’ six-bedroom, eight-bathroom Gladswood Gardens home.
The next notable top sale is likely to be the Elaine estate, which spans six separate titles on New South Head Road on the border of Double Bay and Point Piper, with a frontage on to Seven Shillings Beach. There’s speculation it could reach more than $80 million.
The Intercontinental Hotel, Double Bay. Photo: IHG
Ken Jacobs, of Christie’s International Real Estate, refuses to comment on the price but says the property is “the most significant to come on the market in my whole career”.
Indeed, it’s often said to be one of the most significant ever to come to market in the entire country.
In addition, Double Bay has always been the favoured retail hub for the trophy house-owners of neighbouring Point Piper, Darling Point and Vaucluse with their multi-million dollar harbourfronts.
“Double Bay has certainly come back after it dropped off for a while there,” says Jacobs. “It slipped away in the last decade or so, probably because a lot of other places tried to replicate what was happening in Double Bay, the hotel and cinema both closed and Westfield at Bondi Junction came up at about the same time.
“So Double Bay slipped away for a while. But it’s now reinventing itself in a very positive way. It still has a nice feel and charisma and has made a comeback.”
The vote of confidence in Double Bay follows a near-complete reworking of many of the businesses in the area. The InterContinental refurbished the former 140-room Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Cross Street, the giant health store and restaurant About Life opened, a new library took the place of the old Woolworths with a retail offering that includes a sushi and a homewares store, a bakery and a new restaurant, Little Jean.
There’s been a street beautification scheme launched by the local council, while top-line retailers now include Leona Edmiston, Carla Zampatti and Max & Co, plus restaurants Limoncello, Pelicano, Mrs Sippy and Niji.
Renowned local pub The Golden Sheaf has also undergone a makeover.
The Golden Sheaf, Double Bay, has had renovations. Photo: Supplied
“Double Bay has definitely changed hugely over the past few years,” says Gruceta. “It now has enormous appeal for both residents and for developers to come in.”
The Bay Residences developer Nico Tjen says the renewed retail activity has brought a younger demographic to the area, with prices now moving up.
“Double Bay is booming again,” he said on the sale of his apartments.
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