26/06/2007 - 22:00

Cranecorp takes broad brush to WA

26/06/2007 - 22:00

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Melbourne-based developer John Crane and venture capitalist Daniel Besen are on the lookout for new acquisitions in Western Australia, following their successful entry to the market last year.

Cranecorp takes broad brush to WA

Melbourne-based developer John Crane and venture capitalist Daniel Besen are on the lookout for new acquisitions in Western Australia, following their successful entry to the market last year.

The pair bought in to the Perth property scene in July 2006 when they paid $21.3 million for Multiplex’s leasehold interest in the Old Swan Brewery site.

A few months later they bought a large parcel of undeveloped land next to the Parkwater and Parkwater Forrest Estates in Cowaramup, 12 kilometres north of Margaret River.

Now the Cranecorp chief and his joint venture partner are spying new investment property in Perth’s CBD, with old office blocks ripe for refurbishment and apartment projects on the city fringe among the targets.

Given the tight vacancy rate of Perth’s office market, Mr Crane told WA Business News they would prefer to acquire a commercial office building within the next six months and refurbish.

He said he was confident of making a purchase in the next six months, despite being outbid of late.

“We’ve been actively looking the last three years but with the market increasing in value, it’s been tough,” Mr Crane said.

The Besen family is also looking to reinvest in retail having sold a half share of its Highpoint Shopping Centre in Melbourne early last year to listed outfit General Property Trust for more than $621 million.

“With the institutions coming into WA, the margins are pretty low, so we would probably have to build regional shopping centres as part of our estates,” Mr Crane said.

In the meantime, they are preparing for the August launch of an initial 116 lots at Ironstone Estate in Cowaramup, comprising a number of lakefront lots and larger lots of up to 1,000 square metres.

Mr Crane said the blocks would be on the market for between $300,000 and $500,000 and interest in the land had been very strong to date.

Included in the first stage release are 17 lots of between 683sq m and 798sq m, which will be designated for first home buyers and priced between $240,000 and $255,000.

“We saw it as an opportunity to have a different type of product there and give the locals some assistance to get a foot in the market,” he said.

Prospective buyers will need to meet a set of criteria and lodge a ballot by July 16.

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