Belmont a suburb in transition

BELMONT has shaken its image as an industrial area and is now emerging as a major rival to the metropolitan area’s most expensive warehouse and showroom suburb, Osborne Park.

Since the rezoning of the industrial area and the opening of the Graham Farmer Freeway, Belmont’s old manufacturing and industrial workshops have given way to glossy offices, showrooms and warehouses.

As the standard of the premises increased, so too did land values, which recently hit an all-time high of $225 per square metre for a single property.

The prices are well above those of nearby industrial suburbs such as Kewdale and Welshpool, where small blocks are selling for between $120-$150/sqm and $110-$140/sqm respectively.

The renaissance of Belmont began seven years ago when the council decided the 200ha industrial area had far more potential than was being realised.

“One of the things about the area was a lot of the buildings had reached the end of their lives and the council decided, rather than more industrial-type workshops and buildings, we wanted a switch to office, showroom and warehousing,” Belmont City Council development director Neville Deague said.

“We already had Kewdale, meaning we already had one industrial area, so we decided to do something a bit different in Belmont.”

Once the council rezoned the area to mixed use, companies slowly began to relocate to the area. With the opening of the Graham Farmer Freeway, however, interest in the area, and subsequent activity, has skyrocketed.

New residents to the area include big names like Nestle, National 1, Repco and Trade-link.

Office products supplier National 1 operations manager Ivan Barton said the company had chosen the area for its new Australian headquarters based on land availability and transport links.

“The location, in terms of transport, gives us greatly improved access to our distribution channels and it also makes it easier for our suppliers,” he said.

The brightly coloured National 1 premises, on Barker Road, consists of 2,500sqm of warehouse space and 1,700sqm of office space.

“What makes this area so attractive is that it is now very close to Perth,” Belmont City Council business development manager Peter Schifferli said.

“It is only a couple of kilometres out. The area is serviced by a good road network and it also is close to the airports and freight terminals.

“Bulky goods retailing seems to be in demand at the moment so these transport links are crucial to them.”

Smaller blocks in Osborne Park are selling for between $350-$400/sqm, while larger sites are selling for between $275 and $300/sqm.

Chesterton International industrial director Wayne Chorley described Osborne Park as a “well-planned and modern area” and said Belmont could be prove to be the southern suburbs’ answer to it.

“There is simply nothing like Osborne Park on the south side of the river,” Mr Chorley said.

Mr Schifferli also suggested the mixed-use area may compete with the CBD for the commercial office market.

“There were a lot of sweetheart leases handed out in the early 90s to get people into buildings, and now they are up for review,” he said.

“And I would suggest a lot of companies, such as mining companies, may find Belmont an ideal location to move to.”

Many would find it a cost-effective option to build their own corporate headquarters in Belmont to avoid the increasing CBD office rents, which are expected to hit a record high of $360/sqm with the construction of premium towers such as Future 239 and Westralia Square, Mr Schifferli said.

Hegney Property Valuations managing director Gavin Hegney agreed and noted the market climate in which Osborne Park became popular was again present, with Belmont the suburb to benefit this time.

“Osborne Park changed when the Mitchell Freeway went past and through to Balcatta. Traditional industrial businesses could no longer afford the space and the offices, showrooms and warehouses moved in,” Mr Hegney said. “The number of offices in Osborne Park grew out of a tight CBD office market in the late 1980s.

“The Graham Farmer Freeway has now gone through … and we again have a tightening CBD office market. This time it will be Belmont that will benefit from corporate entities not wishing to pay high rents.”

But Mr Hegney warned that land values were expected to rise by between $25 and $175 in the next two years.

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