13 March 2017

Goulburn CBD heart-starter: 2000 apartments

| John Thistleton
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256 Auburn Street which is on the market for $1.5 million.

Bank financing is slowing a redevelopment juggernaut in the central business district of Goulburn.

Nevertheless, a Sydney and Canberra-led low-rise density wave is coming with the potential for 2000 new apartments in the heart of Goulburn.

Architect Doug McIntyre, who has 12 clients with redevelopment plans in Auburn Street, says the surge in apartments will revive Goulburn’s dreary yet elegant main street. When he looks at the landmark building (pictured above), on the corner of Auburn and Clifford Streets he sees the potential for a swish cocktail bar upstairs, a classy restaurant downstairs, and diners on the footpaths of both streets.

“All of a sudden that corner that is dead at the moment comes alive,’’ Mr McIntyre says.

Of the 10,000 residential dwellings in Goulburn today, less than 1 percent are apartments, giving empty nesters, and affluent, time-poor professionals little choice in the housing market. “I said to (Goulburn Mulwaree) Council today I see the centre of town could easily support at least a couple of thousand apartments, that would totally revitalise the main street of Goulburn,” Mr McIntyre said.

The CBD is transforming. The majority of car yards have long moved out, light industrial workshops are following them and cafes and restaurants are moving in, some with residential accommodation above them.

Marulan identity John Nicastri has put his two-storey Edwardian premises at 256 Auburn Street on the market for $1.5 million, which is drawing keen interest from developers and architects like Mr McIntyre. Listed with real estate principal Peter Mylonas, the 1905 former bank building has three flats on the second level. Mr Mylonas has received two offers and is continuing to negotiate a sale.

Across the road at 203 Auburn Street, a 20-seat Indian restaurant has been approved, with a one-bedroom flat on top. The development application documents include Camden town planner Joanne Tapp comments: “A combination of restaurant, takeaway food, residential and office contributes to a more viable, vibrant Goulburn city centre.”

Mr McIntyre is working on several buildings whose owners are bringing them up to standard, that in turn will provide quality rental space either residentially or commercially.

“In the past that hasn’t been done so a lot of people who rent the places don’t realise they are not covered by insurance because they are non-compliant.

“It is sort of like Goulburn is being brought up to code, finally. You have a lot of franchises going into Goulburn, particularly food franchises, so you know there is money being made in Goulburn because they really do their market research,’’ Mr McIntyre said.

Apartment developments will take a few years because banks have little to go on when assessing construction loans, because of so few previous sales of apartment projects.

Many of the Auburn Street buildings have been owned by mum and dad investors for superannuation, Mr McIntyre says. “Typically they have rented out a ground floor shop and gutted the floors above and left them empty. They have not wanted to bring them up to compliance.”

Cashed up Sydney and Canberra property professionals, project developers and builders are bringing buildings up to compliance for fire accessibility, and other compliance.

Mr McIntyre says Oran Park, Camden and Wilton are developing at pace, and Canberra is expecting 20,000 new homes in the next four to five years.

“All these pressures impact on places like Goulburn which is half the price of Sydney and Canberra. You only need a small percentage of people particularly from Sydney to look at Goulburn, it can impact quite substantially.”

Noise in the CBD was not an issue. “Goulburn compared to Sydney is not noisy at all,” Mr McIntyre said.

He doesn’t recommend building cheap apartments because they attract tenants unwilling to look after them.

He is working with the owner of Zambrero’s building, which stands under a huge old, sprawling apartment which is being converted into two apartments.

“The owner is spending money on those apartments to make them really, really classy,’’ he said. This was a better option than leasing out dingy places for virtually nothing, which did not attract a good tenant.
Mr McIntyre said redevelopments should retain intact heritage buildings at the front, then a courtyard, then an apartment low-rise tower out the back, thus having minimal impacts on the streets.

Goulburn Heritage Group has embraced Mr McIntyre’s approach. Spokesman David Penalver said the Zambrero project, and a redevelopment at 253 Auburn Street at the former Rural Bank building, were brilliant adaptations of an important streetscape. “We hope that both of these projects proceed successfully and quickly,” Mr Penalver said.

Mr Mylonas says securing long-term tenants adds hundreds of thousands of dollars to an investment for landlords willing to spend strategically and offer six months rent free.

After buying 33 Verner, Mr Mylonas spent $40,000 upgrading the building. He now has a tenant, family support services Marymead, and estimates the tenancy has added $500,000 to the building.

He says commercial property investors need to be patient and prepared to upgrade their properties to get the right tenant.

“I waited 17 months, but I got a blue chip tenant. I say to people, the city is on a growth curve, and is a worthwhile investment,” he says.

Independent valuer Stewart Thompson says there appears to have been a few new leases in town associated with the NDIS growth industry.

“Government rationalisation of expenditure in this field is a threat to the longevity of those enterprises and their landlords,’’ Mr Thompson says.

In the residential sector, Mr Mylonas has sold six 700 square metre blocks in the Marys Mount subdivision in the first two months of 2017 for $220,000 each.

On Saturday the Mylonas agency sold Cherry Hinton, an E.C. Manfred-designed residence on a 1480 square metre block, under the hammer for $750,000, $100,000 above the reserve.

The four-bedroom, two- bathroom house was designed for Arthur William Bullen in 1886, and was more recently used as Anglican Christ Church West Goulburn Rectory. A doctor who will reside in Cherry Hinton outbid two others including the buyer of the former Rural Bank building in Auburn Street.

Anglican Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn Stuart Robinson left the auction room with a wide smile.

Peter Mylonas - 1

Photos: John Thistleton. Top: 256 Auburn Street which is on the market for $1.5 million. Above: Peter Mylonas outside his Verner Street investment property.

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