Australia’s Crown Group unveils Sydney mixed-use development

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January 31, 2018 12:00 AM SGT
Australian property developer Crown Group will launch its newest Sydney residential project in Singapore over the weekend of Dec 1 and 2. The project, called Mastery by Crown Group, is a mixed-use development with 384 luxury apartment units and a ground-floor retail component. The residential component of the development is a joint effort by renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and Sydney-based architect Koichi Takada, and will be the first residential project by Kuma in Australia. “The collaboration of the two will lead to something new and unique for Sydney,” says Crown Group chairman Iwan Sunito.
Mastery by Crown Group comprises five residential blocks and a retail podium (Pictures: Crown Group)
Located in the inner-city suburb of Waterloo, Mastery comprises five connected buildings. The tallest, designed by Kuma, will be a 19-storey tower with 144 units, with the exterior covered by plants and emulating a stacked urban forest. Three lowrise buildings are designed by Koichi Takada Architects, and the fifth building is designed by local Sydney architect Silverster Fuller. Planned facilities in the development include an infinity-edge cantilevered rooftop pool, a gym and community areas.
“With Mastery by Crown Group, we are creating a new urban hub — a unique community where people meet, connect, learn, relax and play together, enjoying an enriched community life in this growing suburb,” Sunito says.
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On Nov 28, Crown Group announced that it had signed an agreement with Japanese real estate developer Mitsubishi Estate Group to jointly develop the A$500 million Mastery. The joint venture will involve the Japanese company’s residential arm, Mitsubishi Jisho Residence, which will hold a minority stake of 30% in the project, says Sunito. “We see great opportunities in Sydney’s property market, and we have a strong belief in this global high-growth market,” says Yutaro Yotsuzaka, MJR senior managing executive officer. “The time is right for us to form this strategic partnership.”
Sunito: We are creating a new urban hub — a unique community where people meet, connect, learn, relax and play together
Crown Group’s global launch of Mastery took place on Nov 17, with events held in Sydney, Shanghai and Jakarta. “We saw a mix of both investors and owner-occupiers on launch day, from first-time home buyers and young professionals, to downsizing couples and young families,” says Prisca Edwards, Crown Group CEO of global capital and director of sales. The project was subsequently launched in Hong Kong on Nov 24 and will make its Singapore debut in December. The developer also plans to launch the project in Tokyo next year.
In the first phase, units in one of the low-rise buildings as well as a limited number of units in the Kuma- designed building have been launched for sale, says Sunito. The other three towers will be launched next year. The psf prices of launched units are A$1,400 to A$1,800 psf. Studio units are priced from A$595,000 ($592,928), one-bedroom units from A$775,000, and three-bedroom units from A$1.15 million. Three super-penthouses designed by Kuma are priced from A$4.5 million.
“This price range is considered to be in the middle and comparable to the prices of other new developments in the Waterloo neighbourhood,” says Sunito. For example, new apartments in the Sydney CBD are priced at A$2,500 to A$3,500 psf; and the prime Barangaroo area sees transactions in the A$5,000- to-A$7,000 psf range.
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An artist impression of the living room of a unit at Mastery
In July, the Australian New South Wales state government raised its foreign buyers stamp duty from 4% to 8% — this change was on top of a prevailing 7% buyers stamp duty in the state and moves it in line with Victoria and South Australia (7%).
Waterloo developments
Mastery will be the fourth development by Crown Group in the Waterloo area. Other completed and launched projects are the 110-unit Viking by Crown Group, which was completed in 2014; the uncompleted 326-unit Infinity in the Green Square precinct, which is sold out; and the 331-unit Waterfall by Crown Group, which will be completed by the end of next year.
The Waterloo area has proven to be very popular among buyers and Crown Group’s developments there are either mostly sold or completely sold out. “In Waterfall, we have only 25 units left. When two of the penthouses were sold, they achieved the highest price in the area, at A$4.5 million each, or about A$3,000 psf,” Sunito says. Waterfall has five 1,485 sq ft duplex penthouses.
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At Waterfall by Crown Group, two of the penthouses were sold, and achieved the highest price in the area, at A$4.5 million each, or about A$3,000 psf
For the retail component, seven of the 14 shops have been leased to Japanese food operators, and Sunito hopes to turn the retail area into Sydney’s first Japanese “eat street” with Japanese-themed restaurants, izakaya outlets, sushi train restaurants and formal tea houses. Australian retailer Woolworths is also leasing 6,458 sq ft for a supermarket. The four low-rise buildings are expected to be completed by 2020, and the high-rise building by 2021.
Mastery is located near three major universities in Sydney — the University of New South Wales, the University of Sydney and the University of Technology Sydney. It will also be within walking distance of the upcoming Queens Square and Waterloo station on the city’s light rail transport network.
Foreign buyers
Although the growth in property prices in Sydney is projected to fall to single digits in the coming years, Sunito believes the city is still the best place to invest in Australia’s property market. The exit of many Chinese developers from the market, owing to the Chinese government’s restrictions, means there is no “large supply coming in”, he says. “It’s almost taboo for them to develop overseas today.” Banks are also becoming more restrictive when funding new developments by Chinese developers and prefer to fund established developers such as Crown Group instead, he adds.
Sunito says Crown Group is planning for a listing in Singapore by 2021 and discussing with DBS Bank in preparation. Meanwhile, the Australian government is ramping up spending on affordable housing and infrastructure building, which will help support the property market.
Sunito reckons Sydney will always be the leading city in Australia in terms of price growth because new developments are spread across Waterloo and other parts of the Sydney CBD. The property market in Melbourne may stagnate, he says, because local buyers have access to a large supply of housing in the city, and spacious landed houses priced from A$1.5 million are within a 15-minute drive from Melbourne’s CBD. Many downsizers and empty-nesters around Sydney are also looking for affordable three-bedroom units. “The retirees are looking to downsize their A$3 million to A$4 million houses, and are looking for A$2 million apartment units,” he says.
The development will feature an infinity-edge, cantilevered rooftop pool
Foreigners comprise 30% to 40% of buyers of Crown Group’s developments and are mainly from China, Indonesia and Singapore, Sunito says. Speculative property investors from China have been hit hard by capital restrictions imposed by the Chinese government, but Chinese residents who work and study in Australia can still make cash purchases for new properties, he says. In Indonesia, the impact of the currency inflation of the rupiah is a “wake-up call” for investors there to diversify overseas, and they see Sydney as a comparable location to invest in, alongside Singapore and Shanghai.
Sunito says what makes Crown Group developments premium is their excellent locations. “We choose locations that are really prime, and we build developments in which people actually want to live.”