Gains for region’s patient landowners

24/09/2009 - 00:00

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IT is the land where Alan Bond infamously painted the sand dunes green to make the brochures look better.

Gains for region’s patient landowners

IT is the land where Alan Bond infamously painted the sand dunes green to make the brochures look better.

That is the anecdote about Yanchep recalled by yachtsman John Bertrand in Paul Barry's book, The Rise And Fall Of Alan Bond.

Barry also wrote about the super salesman's dream of a city of 250,000, of Disneyland, of a Grand Prix circuit, of a hovercraft service to Perth and connection to the CBD via an expressway.

Nearly four decades later, much of that vision has evaporated like sea spray blown over the miles of banksia-strewn coastal heathland. But not all of it.

The people are coming and the freeway is following them.

The development of the northern corridor has been continuing at pace for decades but a new stage is commencing, arguably the end phase of the city's northward march of urban sprawl along the coast.

The state government's LandCorp is in the final phase in a long-running process to select a joint venture partner to develop the southernmost section of an area called Alkimos. This represents 285 hectares of a 710ha patch that the land development agency wants to turn into housing, commercial space and myriad other uses.

Running along the north of the LandCorp land is a syndicate managed by Peet, which has recently started clearing land on the newly finished stretch of Marmion Avenue. New signs proclaim this to be Shorehaven, a marketing name so fresh that no-one else involved in region's development appears to have heard of it.

Peet owns about 240ha of land, including a 1.7 kilometre coastal frontage, which it bought from Ric Stowe's WR Carpenter Pty Ltd in April last year. It paid $300 million for the land, which it believes will take 12 years to fill with about 2,900 dwellings, yielding land sales of $1.4 billion.

If that sounds impressive, just cast your eyes further north and let the numbers do the talking.

Eglinton Estates Pty Ltd, controlled by the family of entrepreneur and philanthropist Martin Copley, holds 561ha along the northern boundary of the Peet land, with at least as much coastal contact, not to mention approval for a marina complex.

LandCorp has a similar holding to that bordering Yanchep, an area where two offshore players have massive land interests they have started to develop.

The biggest of these is Japan's Toyku Corporation, which originally went into joint venture with Mr Bond in the early 1970s after being sold on his vision for the region, known as Sun City. Tokyu soon bought out the Bond interests and held as much as 7,000ha in its own right.

Today that figure is reportedly much diminished, at 2,437ha, cutting a semi-circular swath around the inner core of Two Rocks and extending south to Yanchep. However, apart from selling land along the way, it also has interests in two joint ventures, allowing development specialists to have management control.

Before the joint ventures, Tokyu's asset was considered the biggest metropolitan land holding under single ownership in Australia. It may well still be the case.

The first joint venture is with a consortium that includes part of Melbourne's Smorgan family. Called Capricorn Village, it has a total of 644ha in two big parcels. It is developing the smaller, 220ha area near Yanchep, with almost one quarter of that sold off. The larger parcel is near Two Rocks.

The second joint venture, a 713ha project called Yanchep Beach, is with the area's other big foreign holder, Singapore's Koon San Ang, the patriarch of a family investment company heavily committed to this area. His son, Gin Wah Ang, runs the Western Australian operations.

Mr Ang's Yanchep Beach Estates Pty Ltd is developing a retail shopping centre on 15ha of land on Yanchep Beach Road where it hits the terminus of Marmion Avenue. It is also thought that Mr Ang's Atlantis Cove Ptyd Ltd controls a further 544ha to the north east of Two Rocks harbour.

That gives Mr Ang a foothold on more than 1,250ha.

There are plenty of others.

The Crimp family, for instance, have a 232ha holding in the north-eastern corner of this region they have called Breakwater Estate.

They have just started marketing rural blocks of 1ha or more from prices starting at $369,000.

Other players, such as Australand, Police & Nurses, Fini Group, Satterley Group, LWP and the Roche family, all figure prominently with lesser but not insubstantial parcels through this area and to the south of Alkimos, where residential development is fast filling the last remaining gaps.

And there is plenty of profit in this investment.

Take Northern Corridor Developments Ltd, which holds 226ha east of Marmion Avenue between Alkimos and Brighton.

Controlled by property developer Norm Kanair, Northern Corridor's 2008 annual report shows that the land it held for sale had been valued at June 30 last year at $81 million, compared to $20.1 million listed as its cost of acquisition.

LWP is project managing the development of that holding, which is being marketed as Trinity. It will be split in three by transport corridors - Marmion Avenue and the railway - allowing different themes to be used for each parcel, which will each have a distinct village centre.

With the Alkimos regional centre 800 metres to the north of its Romeo Road boundary and the Brighton district centre to the south, the development is being pitched as a sanctuary between the busy hubs.

Trinity sits above one of two undeveloped parcels of land owned by Ocean Springs, a joint venture between the state government and a consortium of investors including Nigel Satterley, merchant banker Karl Paganin and home builder Dale Alcock.

Ocean Springs is the company behind the 680ha Brighton development, which includes areas such as Butler and Ridgewood. About 185ha of that land remains undeveloped along the southern boundary of LandCorp's Alkimos and Northern Corridor's patch.

Two other developments are taking place down the coast from Ocean Springs. The Roche family's Estate Developments has Jindee, while a syndicate linked to real estate group Markham & Heath has Jindalee - both of which are generally associated with Brighton development, which dominates the Butler-Jindalee district structure plan, even though the two projects are separate.

The original Brighton blueprint called for 6,300 residential lots and an eventual population of 28,000 people.

The total investment is estimated be around $2 billion to build the infrastructure and bring the 7,000 dwelling community to fulfilment.

Extrapolate those numbers northward, where there is 10 times the land, and it could easily be a $20 billion spend over the next four decades.

Those numbers sound similar to the ones being bandied about for the large oil and gas projects.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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