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Aqualand's $5 billion development portfolio, with "Blue" at Lavender Bay as the jewel

Invest / Apartments

Australia

Jul 05 2018

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First Impressions.

Entering the display suite of Aqualand’s "Blue", the vista is nothing short of spectacular. With expansive 180-degree uninterrupted views of the pristine Sydney harbour, sunlight glittering atop the vivid blue waters, like a vibrant Brett Whitely come to life. The CBD Skyline and iconic harbour bridge expanding in all directions, giving a sense of awe and exhilaration, you feel like you can see everything that matters in Sydney, life unfolding, all at the same time, with you somehow in control of the unfolding, the view is breathtaking.   

PTW-designed accents, rich hues of navy blue velvet with gold trim line the walls, and blonde parquetry flooring creates seamless open plan living with subdued neutral tones complimenting marble and granite in the kitchen. More intricate blonde bespoke joinery and subtle gold accents, curved balconies and fitted glass screens create a sense of warmth and light that characterise these grand residences. 

Sitting atop Lavender Bay, the extra height gives the vista a refined uniqueness that is breathtakingly priceless.  

The overall effect is truly world-class. Ideal for “evenings in”, entertaining family and friends and with the ability “to lock-and go”, residences are meticulously thought out, grand, luxurious, and elegant. Far enough away from the city to feel private and close enough to jump on a ferry and enjoy the vibrant restaurants, shopping and cafes.  

Impressive leadership.

As I walk in to the press lunch in the "Blue" display suite, Jin Lin the 28-year-old Group Managing Director of Aqualand, is delivering his presentation to the gathering of journalists, his main thrust centred on how privileged he feels to be involved in Australian real estate at such an exciting time of growth.

Aqualand originated from its parent company, Shanghai-based property developer Shenglong, billed as one of China's top 50 property developers and chaired by Jin Lin's father, Yi Lin.

Yi Lin was ranked as China's 92nd richest person on the 2015 Hurun Rich List with a net worth of $3.3 billion.

The groups’ $5 billion Sydney-based development pipeline shows absolute commitment and faith in the Australian residential growth story. With the significant financial backing and a lower dependence on the local Australian banks for funding, Aqualand is set to take advantage of the local demand for the high-quality residential product.   

Already under construction, Aqualand’s iconic, heritage residential apartment development, the Revy, with Blainey- North designed interiors, was sold out to enthusiastic buyers within weeks of the launch and is set for completion late 2018, early 2019. Five of the prestigious residences have been held back for a release to the market on completion.

I sit next to Alex Adams, Head of Sales and Marketing for Aqualand, who has a pedigree spanning back to days at Rich-lister-owned family companies like Meriton, Crown and Toga, and I get the sense that despite the media coverage of the superficial Chinese exodus from Australia, Aqualand is here to stay. And they are cleverly building a delivery team to see them through the cycles.

“Buyers for "Blue" have all been upper north shore downsizers”, says Alex. “Except two, who have come from Camperdown”. The sales launch commenced last September via CBRE Residential Projects, with 78 of the 124 apartments and 5 Soho's sold, averaging a $35,000 per sqm across the board.

Aqualands CEO John Carfi, formerly the CEO of Mirvac. He has also been at Lendlease and was the CEO of Development at EMMAR in the UAE, one of the largest development companies in the world, with a turn over of over $5billion USD annually. Also building the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa and the world’s largest mall, the Dubai Mall. 

Shortly to announce the appointed head of their new construction division, Aqualand has commenced their first "in-house" build on their project "The Heyson" of 44 residences in Turramurra, which is due for completion in the coming months. “Blue” at Lavender bay will be the second project that will be built in-house, by Aqualand.

In good company.

Aside from boasting that direct next-door neighbours at "Blue" are Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, one of the two 175sqm penthouses have sold to a high profile undisclosed buyer, also a north shore local, for a price of $55,000 per sqm or $9 million.  

Two bedroom apartments with no parking at the back of the building, have sold for about the $2 million mark and with parking around $2.5 million. Three bedroom apartments in the development jump in price to $6.1 million for a 150sqm internal area and the sweeping Sydney Harbour views.

The building.

The building at 61 Lavender Street, was previously owned by property veteran Greg Shand’s Barana Group and acquired by Aqualand as a commercial office tower, with the development approval in place for about $140 million in 2016. Its suggested that the site is one of the last to be developed out in the Milson’s point harbour front.

When completed, the prestigious "Blue" residential development will have an end gross value of approximately $420 million.    

Big plans for Australia, Aqualands Monopoly in Sydney.

Aside from having recently and strategically acquired a significant 15 per cent stake in the listed national real estate agency, McGrath, the privately-held Aqualand is discretely playing Monopoly in Sydney’s established Blue-chip suburbs and land-banking for future capitalisation in those areas earmarked for significant residential growth.    

The family have acquired a host of high-profile personal holdings, including the $52 million Vaucluse Harbourfront Villa Igiea, which sits on 2000sqm with gun barrel views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The family also own a 40-ha estate in the Southern Highlands and an $8.5 million family home in Waverton,   

Shaking Jin Lin’s hand as he exits the press event for "Blue", I mention the transaction at 132 Arthur Street where MP Funds Management co-invested with Centennial Property Group. The building was purchased for $36 million in 2014 and Aqualand subsequently acquired it for $70million at the end of 2016. The transaction made us a 40% return on our initial investment (read more here).

Jin grins and replies, “Yes we have a lot on, we have acquired a quite few more buildings in Arthur Street”. I warm to him immediately. 

Although not yet zoned for residential development, Arthur Street in North Sydney offers a spectacular birds-eye-view of Sydney Harbour, Sydney CBD and beyond. Aqualand plans to hold for commercial office income in the meantime with a patient view to the future residential planning upside. 

An impressive and strategic company, Aqualand has a confidence and vision for their contribution to the Australian residential real estate sector which is being executed with a sophisticated and patient understanding of the underlying property drivers and fundamentals.

They are here for the long game. (Read more here)

 

Written by Mandi Prager 

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