Source: Thakral Corp
Aerial view of the 404-home GemLife Bribie Island project
Inderbethal Singh Thakral, group CEO and executive director of listed diversified group Thakral Corp, says his father Kartar Singh Thakral, who is also the company’s founder, had an interesting investment concept. “He focused on only two islands — Australia and Singapore.”
In Singapore, the family’s Thakral Land had developed the 87-unit The Sovereign condominium on Meyer Road, in prime District 15 in the east 24 years ago. When it was completed, it was considered the “Ardmore Park of the east”. “It was a long time ago and just one development,” says Thakral. “Somehow, our stars were always aligned elsewhere.”
For Thakral Corp, they seem to be aligned in Australia, especially when it comes to investment in retirement resorts. In August 2015, the company tied up with the Puljich family, who are developers and owners of retirement resorts in Australia. The joint venture company, GTH Resorts, in which Thakral Corp and Puljich families own equal stakes, was set up to develop resort-style retirement villages for senior citizens, tapping the rising demand for retirement housing in Australia.
Source: Thakral Corp
The waterfront clubhouse building at GemLife Bribie Island, which features views of the 9.5ha lake
Thakral: We see strong growth coming from our retirement housing business under the GemLife brand
Last December, GTH Resorts announced that its retirement communities would be branded “GemLife”. Its maiden acquisition was a 9ha site in Highfields in Queensland’s Toowoomba region, 125km from Brisbane. The retirement community in Toowoomba, called GemLife Highfields, contains 233 homes. They are targeted at occupiers and generally priced from A$360,000 ($384,313) to A$575,000.
A second site — GemLife Bribie Island, located north of Brisbane — will have more than 400 homes on a 24.9ha site, which includes a 9.5ha lake. Construction in each project will be done in stages, according to Kevin Barry, joint managing director of Thakral Capital Australia. Construction of the Bribie Island project will be carried out over five to six years, with about 80 homes built each year. Average prices for a house at GemLife Bribie Island will range from A$430,000 to A$450,000, with lakefront houses starting from A$650,000.
Both retirement communities were launched in late 2016 and are said to have received strong response.
On Sept 28, Thakral Corp announced that it had acquired two additional properties in Australia under the GemLife brand name: One is in Woodend, Victoria that occupies an 11.7ha site; the other is an 11.6ha site in Lennox Head, New South Wales. The future GemLife Woodend will have 199 homes when completed; and GemLife Lennox Head will have 170 homes.
With these two additional sites, the total number of retirement homes under GemLife’s portfolio will be more than 1,000 units.
According to Thakral Corp, pre-sales at both Lennox Head and Woodend have started and the initial response to both projects “is very encouraging”. Construction at Woodend and Lennox Head is expected to commence in 4Q2017 and 1Q2018 respectively. GemLife has committed about A$20 million to the development of the properties, the company adds.
“Within Australia, there is an undersupply of retirement dwellings for a rapidly ageing population,” says Thakral Capital Australia’s Barry.
Barry: There is still an undersupply of retirement dwellings in Australia
Thakral agrees, citing that an estimated 160,000 people in Australia turn 50 each year. Even with GemLife adding 250 to 300 retirement dwellings annually to the total count of such housing in Australia, demand far exceeds supply, he adds.
In August, Thakral Corp sold four strata floors in a warehouse in Hong Kong for a total of $74 million. “The bulk of the proceeds will be pumped into the Australian business,” says Thakral.
He adds that the company is currently studying opportunities in Singapore, particularly in the commercial sector. For now, he believes there is still a lot of room for growth in Australia, particularly in retirement housing.
This article appeared in EdgeProp Pullout, Issue 799 (Oct 2, 2017)