Crown Group launches its largest development — in Eastlakes, Sydney

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/ EdgeProp
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May 29, 2018 7:00 AM SGT
Sydney-based property development and investment company Crown Group unveiled its latest development — in Eastlakes, a suburb located 6km south of the Sydney CBD — last month. The A$1 billion ($1.02 billion) project marks Crown Group’s largest development so far. The developer has established a reputation for developing premium, high-rise condominium projects in the CBD.
Eastlakes Live is Crown Group’s newest mixed-use development in Sydney (Picture: Crown Group)
The Eastlakes development comprises two parts. The first is Eastlakes Live, a new high-density “urban resort” sitting on a 2.5ha site with 134 residences; a retail podium with 12 outlets, two major supermarkets, cafés and restaurants; a market square; playgrounds; a village green; as well as public outdoor space for community events.
The second part of the Eastlakes development includes the Eastlakes Shopping Centre located across the road, which Crown Group will be redeveloping. Crown Group purchased the shopping centre in late 2015. Opened in 1965, Eastlakes Shopping Centre is one of the oldest malls in Sydney. Crown Group intends to redevelop the property into a new retail project to complement Eastlakes Live.
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The first phase of 134 residential units at Eastlakes Live, to be launched on June 2, will comprise a mix of one- to three-bedroom units of 495 to 1,249 sq ft, as well as penthouses of 1,184 to 1,249 sq ft. Prices start from A$760,000. The first phase is scheduled for completion in 1Q2021. The remaining 400 units will be released for sale at a later date.
The first 134 units at Eastlakes Live will be launched for sale on June 2 (Picture: EdgeProp Singapore)
“Due to zoning restrictions and sustainability factors, it is difficult to find appropriate sites for [high-density, mixed-use] developments such as Eastlakes Live in Sydney,” says Crown Group chairman and group CEO Iwan Sunito in an interview with EdgeProp Singapore.
Eastlakes Live has already exceeded its expressions of interest target, with more than $134 million worth of potential sales booked prior to its launch next month, according to Crown Group.
Sunito: It is important to be aware of what you have done in the past, as well as what your competitors are doing (Picture: Crown Group)
Eastlakes Live is able to benefit from the accumulated experiences of Sunito and his business partner Paul Sathio, who co-founded the company in 1996. They have established Crown Group as a developer of iconic high-rise towers primarily in Sydney and Melbourne.
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Landmark projects
One of Crown Group’s more recent developments is the 220-unit Arc by Crown Group, a 25-storey residential tower in the heart of Sydney’s CBD. When it was first launched in 2014, 79 of 83 units, or 95%, released were snapped up on the first day, garnering total sales of $125 million in a single day. The average price of units in the project was A$22,857 per sq m (A$2,123 psf). The project is currently 80% sold ahead of its scheduled completion at end-June.
The 220-unit Arc by Crown Group, located in the heart of Sydney’s CBD (Picture: Crown Group)
“This development will not only change the face of Sydney’s CBD but will also set the benchmark for inner-city living,” says Crown Group director of sales Roy Marcellus.
For Sunito, a trained architect, it’s not just about erecting buildings in the city but also “building striking, beautiful towers”. What makes Crown Group stand out from the rest is its ability to develop projects that appeal to both homebuyers and investors, he says. “Most of the property buyers in Sydney to- professionals, followed by students, and finally global investors. While the first group prefers community living and convenience, the student population prefers living within easy driving distance of universities. Areas such as Green Square, Eastlakes and Waterloo appeal to both segments.”
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Elsewhere in central Sydney, Crown Group is developing a new residential project in Waterloo called Waterfall by Crown Group, which is set to be completed in 2019. The 331-unit development comprises three 7-storey blocks and a 20-storey tower that will house studios, one- to three-bedroom units, courtyard apartments and duplex penthouses.
At Crown Group’s 331-unit Waterfall, just 36 units are available for sale, at prices starting from A$702,000 (Picture: EdgeProp Singapore)
The development’s theme is “tropical cornucopia, denoting an abundance of good things”, according to Sunito. It takes its name from the seven-storey waterfall that will be built within the project. The $395 million development will have a wide range of facilities, such as a rooftop recreational deck, heated infinity rooftop pool, cantilevered gym, function room with a catering kitchen and onsite retail units. There will also be a park within the development.
“The greenery, plants and other natural elements bring this development to a whole new level and create a luxurious, balanced environment for residents,” says Crown Group’s director of sales, Prisca Edwards. Only 36 units are available, as the project is close to 90% sold. Available units range from studios to three-bedroom apartments, priced from A$702,000 to A$1.5 million.
Appealing to the well-heeled
Most of the buyers at Waterfall are wealthy seasoned foreign investors, primarily from China, Indonesia and Singapore, who are buying for their children in the event they intend to further their education in Sydney. This is because Waterfall is located in the vicinity of popular universities such as the University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales and Taylors College.
Roof terrace at Waterfall by Crown Group (Picture: Crown Group)
Sunito notes that there is an increase in the number of wealthy buyers from Cambodia as well in recent years. For instance, a Cambodian family bought at least four units worth a total of about A$5 million at the launch of Waterfall last June.
Besides iconic residential developments, Crown Group recently moved into the hospitality sector and opened its first luxury hotel last August. The 72-room SKYE Hotel Suites is located beside V by Crown Group in Paramatta, Sydney. Hotel guests get to enjoy L’Occitane toiletries, a pre-stocked maxi-bar, inroom dining service and “virtual concierge” tablets to access all hotel services. By end-December, famous bartender-turned-entrepreneur Sven Almenning will open a rooftop bar on the 26th floor, which will overlook Sydney’s iconic skyline.
Crown Group opened its first luxury hotel last August. The 72-room SKYE Hotel Suites is located beside V by Crown Group in Paramatta, Sydney (Picture: Crown Group)
“SKYE Hotel Suites appeals to a new generation of domestic and international visitors to Sydney and will also set the standard for future SKYE Hotel Suites,” says Sunito.
Recurring income, diversification
Crown Group is also consolidating its portfolio and retaining ownership of its retail offerings. While the company is in discussions with interested parties that want to jointly manage the retail components, it also wants to build a portfolio of investment properties that will provide a steady stream of recurring income, says Sunito.
He believes it is important to have a diversified income stream “so that when the time is right to get the company listed, the business will be ready for the next chapter”. He intends to launch the company’s IPO within the next three to five years and is exploring a dual listing on the Australian Securities Exchange as well as on the stock exchanges of Hong Kong, Singapore or Shanghai.
Crown Group is building a strong stream of recurring income and plans to retain ownership of its retail offerings, such as the new shopping centre at Eastlakes (Picture: EdgeProp Singapore)
Crown Group will increasingly focus on developing sustainable urban centres and mixed use developments such as Eastlakes Live. For example, the new shopping centre at Eastlakes Live will have a “marketplace concept”, with a focus on showcasing quality food, an active lifestyle and community engagement.
“Too often these days, food is prepared and served to you behind the counter and you don’t know how it was prepared or cooked. I want to bring back the experience of seeing your food prepared in front of you,” Sunito says. “There is not enough of the ‘laneway experience’ in Sydney, unlike what you can frequently experience in Melbourne.”
One of the two supermarkets in Eastlakes Live will be anchored by either Woolworths or Coles, two big Australian supermarket chains. The emphasis of the supermarket will be on quality food, adds Sunito. The other supermarket will be Aldi, a discount supermarket.
The retail podium at Eastlakes Live (Picture: Crown Group)
Going abroad
Outside Australia, Crown Group is developing a 5ha waterfront township development in Indonesia in a joint venture with Pembangunan Jaya Ancol, a public company controlled by the Jakarta provincial government. It is also developing two other projects in the Greater Jakarta area — in the Kuningan CBD in South Jakarta and the Alam Sutera township in Tangerang, Banten.
In the US, Crown Group is developing a US$700 million ($936.8 million) tower that includes a hotel component in Los Angeles. Crown Group is also engaging branded international hotels to explore a joint venture to build and manage the development.
On new concepts in Crown Group’s developments, Sunito reckons that multi-purpose space will be the trend in the future. “One concept I am keen to push is convertible furniture — like what I have seen in Singapore — where the bed can be folded and the space used for work.”
He intends to test the concept in his upcoming development in Indonesia, where he can manufacture the customised, convertible furniture at a lower cost.
For Sunito, the challenge is coming up with something better and different for each new development. “It is important to be aware of what you have done in the past, as well as what your competitors are offering,” he says.