12 February 2019

Auction of former public housing sites to be big pay day for Government

| Ian Bushnell
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The Junction development site in Lyons, formerly Strathgordon Court. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Three prime former public housing sites are going under the hammer next month on the same day, in what will be a multi-million dollar windfall for the ACT Government.

The Suburban Land Agency has released for sale the former Stuart Flats site in Griffith, divided into four blocks; the former Gowrie Court in Narrabundah; and the largest of the three, Strathgordon Court in Lyons, which is being marketed as Junction.

All are zoned RZ5 high density residential, with Griffith having approval for a total of 484 apartments, Narrabundah 177 and Lyons 492, including 70 required to be ‘affordable’.

Director Residential at Colliers International Shane Radnell said the main developer interest was focused on the premium inner south properties but there had also been a good response to the 23,289 square metre Lyons site, which is virtually a corner block on Melrose Drive and Hindmarsh Drive, and described as a coveted position next to the Woden Town Centre.

The four Griffith blocks – bounded by Stuart Street, Captain Cook Crescent and Evans Crescent – will yield 70, 100, 282 and 32 apartments respectively, with the largest being more than 12,000 square metres in size, in a total of 22,452 square metres. The Narrabundah site in McIntyre Street is 13,775 square metres.

Mr Radnell was not able to say what the properties might bring but ‘certainly there will be a few zeros’.

“At this stage, we have issued information to interested parties and had preliminary discussions with many of them, but as they start to work on their feasibilities they’ll start to give us an indication of the price ranges,” Mr Radnell said.

“Obviously the sites in Griffith and Narrabundah on a per dwelling basis will be quite a bit more than Lyons as you would expect.”

Mr Radnell said the interest had come from Australian-based overseas developers, and some from Sydney and Melbourne, but all local medium to large developers were looking at all three locations because of their size.

The four Griffith blocks.

While the pitch for the inner south sites focuses on their location in two of Canberra’s leafiest and exclusive suburbs, the focus for Lyons is the revitalisation of the Woden Town Centre and the boon to property values that Stage 2 of light rail will bring.

“Locals have easy access to transport, infrastructure, and community services, as well as some of Canberra’s best schools. With the proposed second stage of Canberra’s Light Rail, Woden will be a modern and fully connected community—with property values to match,” the sales brochure says.

“Residents will enjoy some of Canberra’s finest amenities in their own backyard, with the rest of the city just minutes away.”

Mr Radnell said that while most interested parties were targeting the inner south sites, ‘some exciting stuff’ was happening in Woden, which is being transformed by major high-rise residential developments.

“We’ve had great success with A and A development [the former Albemarle and Alexander buildings] on behalf of the Doma Group, which is a little bit different in that it’s repositioning an old asset. Sales there have been fantastic,” he said.

Mr Radnell said Colliers was finding that more and more people want to reside in commercial and retail precincts.

He said the inner south market would probably be a different demographic compared to that for the Lyons development.

“You’ll get a good spread of investors, live-in owners and downsizers in the Griffith and Narrabundah projects when they come to light,” he said. “You’ll get some of that spread at Lyons as well but a lot of the apartments in Lyons I would expect to be rented by a younger demographic and therefore that will drive investor demand for that project.”

Mr Radnell said the urban renewal projects were positive for Canberra, which was still growing at a faster rate than any other city location in Australia.

“We need more and more dwellings to house those people and obviously as more residents move into the town centres, that’s going to feed the economies of those centres,” he said.

“The city is absolutely growing up and the expansion of these inner urban areas is proof of that.”

All three sites are being marketed for the SLA by JLL and Colliers International.

The auction will take place on Wednesday 20 March at 11 am at The Bradman Room, Manuka Oval.


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ChrisinTurner6:45 pm 12 Feb 19

Doubling the current public transport journey time from Civic to Woden is unlikely to make our city “more connected”. Tuggeranong will be ever worse affected as passengers to Civic and elsewhere will have to change modes at Woden.

Let’s hope this isn’t another case of replacing hundreds of public housing units with new flash apartments for property investors and young executives.

Another few thousand public housing tenants sent out of inner Canberra and off to the outer suburbs of Tuggeranong and Gungahlin. Outer Suburbs without the social support services, public transport access and community facilities that the Houso’s used to have.

Based on the recent experience of Red Hill and Civic Public Housing sell offs, I won’t hold my breath.

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