26/03/2008 - 22:00

Smaller players take up inner-city opportunities

26/03/2008 - 22:00

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More than a decade has passed since construction began on the Graham Farmer Freeway, which involved the reclamation of large tracts of land in Northbridge.

Smaller players take up inner-city opportunities
More than a decade has passed since construction began on the Graham Farmer Freeway, which involved the reclamation of large tracts of land in Northbridge.

The project created opportunities for many property developers in Perth, among them small operators such as Northbridge-based Colgan Industries Pty Ltd.

Daniel Colgan, who is a part-owner in the family business, said it was after the refurbishment of the OneWorld Backpackers site in 2003 – owned by the East Perth Redevelopment Authority – that he realised the longterm potential of Northbridge.

“At that point, there was a lot of vacant land in the area.

Around the backpackers site was all vacant, and some of it was very reasonably priced,” Mr Colgan said.

“Our family has travelled a lot and seen that if you’ve got innercity land, at some point it’s bound to become valuable.

It was basically good fortune; we got involved and saw what was happening, rather than having a strategy to move in.” Colgan Industries’ latest project is its biggest in Northbridge to date, consisting of 35 new apartments, including some lofts and a cafe, on the former MacKay Cool Drink factory site on Money Street.

Demolition and forward works have begun on the project, which Mr Colgan said should be completed by November next year.

Many of the company’s other projects have involved the restoration of heritage-listed cottages for EPRA, which will auction the last of its vacant lots in May.

Prices have risen significantly since the New Northbridge precinct releases began, with a record price of $2,733 per square metre set at this month’s auction.

Mr Colgan said the price was extraordinary, given his company had paid about $550/sqm for the OneWorld Backpackers site five years ago.

“We’ve just had (the MacKay site on) Money Street valued and that’s basically jumped about 500 per cent in two and a half years,” he said.

Mr Colgan said he preferred Northbridge to other inner-city areas that were more “contrived”.

“It’s edgier; it’s still got a mix of grunge and beautifully restored buildings,” he said.

“I think Northbridge will really come into its own as the population moves in here.

It’s that critical mass of people that’s needed.” While there are few lots remaining in the precinct managed by EPRA, other sites are being targeted for redevelopment.

Architecture firm Co-Praxis Architects has been given the go ahead to demolish two cottages at the northern end of William Street, near Brisbane Streetin order to build a three-storey mixed use development.

Principal Matthew Young, whose family company will settle its $2 million acquisition of the site this month, said a total of six offices and two ground floor retail lots would be built, with the firm taking two offices for its own use.

Mr Young said the site had provided good value in terms of its location.

“(The site) has some pretty terrible buildings on it, and I think it was undervalued,” he said.

“It’ll create a bit of daytime life and bring density in to make the whole area active.” Mr Young, who lives in the area, said he and his wife had been eyeing the site for some time with a view to development.

“It’s like Brunswick Street [in Melbourne], particularly as you head up towards the Brisbane Hotel.

We really like that top end of William Street,” Mr Young WA Busines News.

“I think that area is right on the cusp.

We’ve been around for a while now and you want to get in on the cusp – you don’t want to go in afterwards, and you don’t want to be too early either.” The area is pegged for a second major development, with the Perth Mosque planning to extend its building and redevelop an adjacent site next door.

A development application, which is yet to be approved, has been lodged with the Town of Vincent.

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