Sydney developer Thirdi has pulled together an ambitious office project in North Sydney after amalgamating a series of apartment blocks and listing for sale the Blue Street site, slated to be home to a $330 million development.
The move represents a further diversification for Thirdi, best known for its inner-city Sydney apartments. The developer has also made a foray into retirement living and aged care development, as well as Specialist Disability Accommodation units supported by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Sydney developer Thirdi makes a breakthrough with commercial diversification, listing its office project for $330 million (render). Supplied
In North Sydney, Thirdi, with the support of commercial agency PropertyFox’s Tim Fox and Michael Wydeman, amalgamated 40 apartments across five apartment blocks under strata renewal laws to put together a 2326sq m office development site at 2-4 Blue Street and 1-5 William Street.
The complex deal took more than a year to execute and comprises three apartment blocks that were company-titled, while the other two were strata-titled. While only 75 per cent owner agreement is required to force the sale of the units, Thirdi has achieved full control of the site.
Its key location near North Sydney’s bus and rail interchange, as well as the future Victoria Cross metro station, has drawn the attention of several institutional investors, including developers and the listed REITs keen to access premium office space in the scarce North Sydney market.
Following unsolicited offers, the group has launched an official expressions of interest campaign for a buyer or joint venture partner through CBRE’s Scott Gray-Spencer and Ben Wicks and JLL’s Paul Noonan, Rob Sewell and Mitch Noonan.
The group initially explored the site for apartments but consultations with local council indicated a commercial or mixed-use project better meets the North Sydney CBD expansion plans.
The soft housing market was another reason for the group’s commercial detour.
“There were a few levers that pulled back investor-driven apartment sales in 2016 to 2017, when we then moved onto aspirational owner-occupier apartments and now we are thinking outside the square, a diversification that started 18 months ago,” Thirdi’s Luke Berry said.
The completion of the project in 2022 will be timed to mop up unmet demand ahead of other projects, according to Mr Berry and the agents.
“The size of the project means a nimble developer could capitalise on the current strength in the North Sydney office leasing market and potentially deliver a new office building by 2021, to coincide with a forecast spike in tenant demand,” Mr Gray-Spencer said.
The new property will yield about 15,000sq m of net lettable area. It will join other new office developments, the Nine-anchored tower at 1 Denison Street by Winten Property Group and Dexus’ new 100 Mount Street block. Other groups such as Mirvac have also used the strata renewal strategy to access commercial sites in North Sydney.
Thirdi’s Robert Huxley said that as the company considers its options through the EOI process, it will proceed with the planning process, appointing architects Woods Bagot to design a scheme ahead of a development application submission by the end of October.
While the company considers other commercial sites in Sydney and Melbourne, it has also established its first retirement village project under the ThirdAge Villages brand in Newcastle, NSW, through the redevelopment of the Merewether Golf Clubhouse and its associated Seniors Village.
The group’s interest in Newcastle expands from its apartment projects in the new West End precinct in the city’s CBD. Within those projects, the company has also built its first 20 NDIS-assisted living units.
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