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Growland: leveraging scale and amenity to find an affordable housing solution

People & Companies / Latest News

Australia

Apr 11 2017

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Mark Westfield

In the midst of a heated debate over housing affordability, developer Growland believes it has struck the right balance between the scale of its $600 million Victoria Square development and attractive amenity to be able to offer its one-bedroom apartments at an “affordable” $298,000. This is well under Melbourne’s one bedroom median price of $330,000, according to CoreLogic.

Also, 90 per cent of the 900 apartments to be built in the project will be under $600,000, thus qualifying for the Victorian first home buyers’ grant which comes into effect on 1 July.

“The timing is good,” says Project Director James Harrison. “Not only was the project designed at a time when the industry believed it would be subject to new design rules setting a 50sq m minimum for one-bedders, but the value is even greater given virtually all first home buyers of these apartments will qualify for the grant.”

The Victorian government didn’t in the end proceed with implementation of that 50 sq m limit, but Growland is proceeding anyway and the one-bedders will be comfortably over that minimum at 61 sq m.

Construction starts on the first two towers containing 400 apartments “at the end of the year,” says Harrison. 

Growland’s ability to offer its apartments at an affordable price has been helped by the fact that the group bought the site in Footscray, in Melbourne’s inner west, five years ago, at a price well below what it would have cost today. “We got it before the big uplift,” says Harrison, “and this is a key factor in us being able to offer the apartments at very competitive prices.”

This will be Growland’s first development under its own name. It had been a partner under another name in the Marco project on Southbank and the Growland name evolved while Marco was being constructed.

“We see Victoria Square as an important exercise in branding for Growland,” says Harrison, who is ex-Mirvac. “People will see it consists of well-designed, quality buildings with excellent amenities including a 400-metre running track and parkland. Rather than looking at the project merely as a profit exercise, we see this project as setting a benchmark. We want Growland to be associated in the market’s perception with the creation of livable, desirable homes that people will want to buy.”

Although the apartments are inarguably “affordable” (three bedders start at $579,000) Growland has invested in an exciting design by young architect Billy Kavellaris who has produced a striking “curvilinear” design for the buildings, reflecting the bends of the nearby Maribyrnong River. The project is heavily pitched at young buyers. “Young people also need to be able to live at a reasonable distance to where they work. Melbourne’s employment precinct has traditionally been concentrated to the CBD, meaning the inner ring suburbs are incredibly important to Melbourne’s future growth,” says Growland CEO Ronald Chan.

Growland has projects in the pipeline at Highett, Moonee Ponds and on St Kilda Road, and is developing a 1,000-lot house-and-land project at Tarneit in Melbourne’s west.

“We have an appetite for more and see the market as being still fundamentally strong,” says James Harrison. 

SOURCE: Feature Article

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