05/05/2020 - 12:18

El Caballo acquisition to boost indigenous outcomes

05/05/2020 - 12:18

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El Caballo Resort and Lifestyle Village will be repurposed to become a social housing facility for indigenous Australians under a new joint venture established by the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council.

Once famous for its dancing horses, El Caballo will now provide a range of benefits for vulnerable Aboriginal people. Photo: Richard Noble & Co

El Caballo Resort and Lifestyle Village will be repurposed to become a social housing facility for indigenous Australians under a new joint venture established by the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council.

SWALSC established the Aboriginal Housing Foundation to acquire the property, which sold for $12 million in a deal brokered by Richard Noble & Company's Patrick Lilburne.

The foundation has been set up as a co-trusteeship between Equity Trustees and Aboriginal Housing Recovery Centre Limited. 

Under the venture, El Caballo will provide housing for up to 180 indigenous Australians suffering hardship, with a range of social services such as domestic violence support, childcare facilities and a rehabilitation centre also to be offered at the property. 

Mr Lilburne said the transaction provided an excellent social outcome for the 39-hectare property, which was set up by entrepreneur Ray Williams in 1972 and best known for its Spanish dancing horses.

Located around 30 minutes from Perth Airport, El Caballo comprises a resort property as well as a lifestyle village in its early stages of development.

Mr Lilburne said there was a solid level of interest in the property, which was offered as separate components or as a whole, with AHF the only party to express interest in buying the assets in one line.

“The social outcomes were attractive to the vendor,” he said. 

“I spent a lot of time with the purchasers here, and the more I got to understand the goals and aspirations there, the better I felt about the whole transaction.

“If they even get close to fulfilling their proposed charter here it will be a great outcome for everyone.”

Mr Lilburne said while it was one of the most complicated sales he had been involved in throughout his extensive career in real estate, it was also one of the most enjoyable.

“The repurposing of properties to greater advantage is something that a lot of people don’t really open their eyes to,” he said.

“And there are these opportunities that when someone points it out to you later you say ‘wow why didn’t I think of that’?

“This really could have been one of those examples where it slipped through and someone just tried to do exactly what was there before and struggled on to an average outcome, whereas I think this is going to be a great outcome by repurposing it.”

SWALSC chief executive Wayne Nannup said the foundation was in its preliminary planning stages after completing the acquisition, with no opening date yet set.

He said the acquisition of El Caballo would be the first in a series of initiatives to help empower Aboriginal Australians.

Mr Nannup said as well as providing housing and social services, AHF would create vocational training opportunities in horticulture, language, childcare and property management, while a trade centre will be equipped to support hospitality and catering, as well as building and construction.

“Although purchasing a mature property like El Caballo means we will need to do some remedial work, it gives us a great location within a vibrant, well-established community and a variety of multi-use accommodation styles,” he said.

“The subdivision and aged care approvals already in place mean we can also commence the new construction we need to undertake immediately, significantly cutting development time.”

Mr Nannup said the AHF was a big step forward for South West Noongar people to take control of their future via long-term investment in programs that meet their specific needs.

“We’re not sitting around waiting for other people to deliver on promises and create meaningful opportunities for our community,” he said.

“Noongar people have ownership of this initiative and are inspired to achieve results that will set the benchmark for the rest of Australia.”

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