20/03/2020 - 14:37

Iris nears construction start at Booragoon

20/03/2020 - 14:37

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Iris Residential has overcome a range of challenges to build its Booragoon apartments project, to begin within weeks.

Iris nears construction start at Booragoon
An architect's rendering of the completed Amara City Gardens. Image: Iris Residential

Iris Residential has faced significant challenges getting its Amara City Gardens apartments across the line, starting well before the global economic upheaval of recent weeks.

Construction work will kick-off in about two weeks at Amara City Gardens, with the project to be among the first large-scale apartments developments to be built at a major Perth shopping centre.

But getting to this point wasn’t an easy journey, according to Iris managing director Simon Trevisan.

Mr Trevisan said marketing for the 125-apartment project was launched at a time many other developers were postponing new projects as the Perth property market worked its way through one of its longest-running downturns of activity.

Adding to the general market uncertainty was the fact that (then) Garden City Shopping Centre owner AMP Capital had shelved its highly-publicised plans for an $800 million redevelopment of the mall.

While Mr Trevisan said there was plenty of excitement around the launch of Amara when the Garden City expansion was a live project, much of that positivity was shut down with the delay to the centre’s redevelopment.

“That caused a loss of confidence in the precinct, which impacted on our sales,” Mr Trevisan told Business News.

“Then we had the near-simultaneous announcements of the stamp duty rebate and Scentre Group acquiring a controlling interest in the centre and management of the centre, and were going ahead with all of their plans for it and reinvesting in the centre.

“That restored confidence, so we got an uplift in sales, sufficient to get us across the line to get construction under way.

“We’ve taken a view, and I think it’s the right one, that it’s a case of ‘build it and they will come’ in this location.”

Mr Trevisan said he and his team had been in regular contact with Scentre Group since the shopping centres giant acquired the mall and renamed it Westfield Booragoon, with all indications that a significant revamp was again a possibility.

“They are throwing everything at it in terms of investment and are very excited about what they are going to do there,” he said.

“They are not publicly talking timelines for good reason, but they are visibly working on it all. There is no question that they are working on rejuvenating it.”

Construction work at Amara will be undertaken by Multiplex, with the Cameron Chisholm Nicol-designed project the first apartments build to be taken on by the state’s biggest builder since before the GFC.

Mr Trevisan said he considered the appointment of Multiplex to be something of a coup for Iris.

“There has been a movement back to quality, and part of that is the challenges over east faced by the construction sector as a whole,” he said.

“For a project like this to have Multiplex there is very important.”

However, while Mr Trevisan said there was much positivity around Iris starting the Amara build, the looming economic catastrophe from the COVID-19 crisis was dampening expectations.

“We are not any different to any other part of social life; everyone is thinking about why they should go outside and what the world is going to be like in two weeks’ time, two months’ time and two years’ time,” he said.

“There is definitely a pause on everything at the moment, and we are part of that, we are not orphans there. We are part of the norm and it is a rational response to the incredible times we find ourselves in.

“That said, we are talking about providing housing, and Iris develops for owner-occupiers specifically.

“There is a lot to what we do that is about providing the best apartment housing for our target community that we can.

“So when the emergency subsides and we move into the phase of a new normal, which needs to happen fairly quickly and that’s where all the effort is going into at the moment, people will come back and see that all the benefits of what we are offering at Amara will remain.

“The current crisis doesn’t change any of those fundamentals.”

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