Pete Wargent blogspot

CEO AllenWargent Property Buyers, & WargentAdvisory (institutional). 6 x finance author.

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Sunday, 22 June 2014

Hanging gardens of Barangaroo

Bonanza weekend

Following on from the theme of the earlier post - the great swathe of construction that is underway in New South Wales - it's been a huge weekend for Lend Lease.

At one end of Darling Harbour, the $2.5 billion Darling Harbour Live development is well underway, with the old SCC having now been demolished as I photographed myself here.

Indeed, 357 off-the-plan apartments went on sale for the Darling Square tower development yesterday morning (they call it Darling Harbour but it looks more like Haymarket to me) and every apartment sold in just a few hours.

Sydney Morning Herald estimated that the value of those sales was $650 million, but one suspects that the number was closer to half a billion. Either way, that's a massive day of sales. Interesting to hear that a partner at PwC spent $2.6 million of flats for his 8 and 10 year old kids to stay in when they go to Uni...


Meanwhile, down the other end of the harbour this morning Lend Lease put on a site tour for the $6 billion Barangaroo project. I went down for a few hours to do the tour and here is what I saw...

Below is "T2", the second of the commercial towers (there will be three vast commercial towers, two smaller residential blocks and a huge hotel development). The below "T2" tower is only currently constructed up to half of its full height, and even this won't be the largest of the three towers.

That should give some idea of the sheer scale of the Barangaroo: it's an absolute monster project, Australia's largest ever. Note that the result of this will be a significant oversupply of commercial office space in the Sydney CBD, which is already evident in elevated vacancy rates and softening yields. Some 23,000 office workers will work in the international towers.

Some of the landscaping is underway. The underlying idea is to recreate the 1788 shoreline, the 'Hungry Mile' having been flattened decades ago and used as a shipping terminal. The guy in the suit is Andrew Wilson, the Barangaroo project's MD - I just managed to 'pap' the top of his head. 

The chap being interview on the right was the 24th Aussie Prime Minister - Mr. Paul Keating.

The Barangaroo name was selected via a competition, for which there were some 1600 entries. I think from memory half a dozen people chose the same inning name, being that of of Bennelong's wife (Bennelong Point is the name now given to the site upon which Sydney Opera House sits).

More landscaping down at the Harbour Bridge end of the project. The suburbs in the distance are McMahaons Point to the left and Lavender Bay, and Milsons Point, home to the famous Luna Park grin and amusement park attractions.

Thousand of tonnes of earth to be shifted. There will be 75 stores lining the frontage including restaurants, cafes and bars, and retail and health stores.

Note how the shoreline which was previously straight, has now been re-sculpted back to its 1788 contours. More than 2000 construction workers are to be on site at peak times, so it's happening quickly. The prject is bigger than London's Canary Wharf, but will be built in half the time. More than 500 indigenous persons will be involved in the creation of the project.

Controversially, the park area on the headland now comprises less space than had been implied by the original plans. An "iconic, luxury hotel" is proposed; and wait until Packer's casino plans finally get the full nod for the real community uproar. According to the planning documents, more than 50% of Barangaroo South will be zoned as "public space". 100% of the waterfront will be accessible to the public.

75,000 plants in total are to be shipped in, grown off site especially for the project, including native eucalypts.

The press hasn't gotten a hold of this yet, but planning permission has been lodged to have the shipping control tower demolished. "Not viable" to retain it is the word, problems with the lifts 'n' that...would cost too much to fix it etc. 

The development will be Australia's first large scale "carbon neutral" project - renewable energy solar power plants will be created off site which will generate power for 5000 homes, but not in regional New South Wales.

Looking back towards King Street Wharf - "T2" tower in the far distance under construction. Pyrmont wharves off to the right.

Quiz question for history geeks. I took this photo at 12.59pm. I took another photo two minutes later at 1.01pm and something had changed...what was it? Answer at the end of the blog post. 

Note in the backdrop to the left, the row of a couple of dozen housing commission dwellings at Miller's Point which are to be sold off and the residents relocated to previously vacant public housing land in Glebe. 

The back of the Miller's Point strip. Signs are up in protest of the relocation to new public housing.

And the front of the Miller's Point row, which overlooks the harbour and the entire Barangaroo project.

The answer to the poser, is that at 1pm every day, the golden globe on Sydney Obervatory Hill is 'dropped'. It was used as an accurate standard timepiece for the city from 1858, originally accompanied by a 1pm canon blast. I think it was also used for shipping purposes, but don't quote me on that.

The first building at Barangaroo will be coming online in 2015, with the entire $6 billion Barangaroo South project to be completed by 2020.