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Long before Barangaroo drew the designer eye of some of the world’s top architects and the glittering towers they built lured the uber-rich from around the world, the foreshore was better known for the Hungry Mile, a barren roadway named after the queues of workers who sought work on the docklands during the Great Depression.
There were few residents, but in neighbouring Millers Point there were an estimated 300 public housing properties to house Sydney’s neediest citizenry.
Views of housing along High St as seen from Hotel Palisade, Miller’s Point. Credit:Wolter Peeters
Not any more. A selloff of public housing by the state government means that generations of working-class locals no longer live in the historic sandstone terraces. But the money being splashed around in Millers Point – $5 million for a rundown terrace, up to $10 million for a double-fronted one with views – is a fraction of that at Barangaroo.
There, Crown’s distinctive One Barangaroo tower – designed by international architectural firm WilkinsonEyre – dominates the skyline, and Lendlease’s trio of towers, designed by acclaimed architect Renzo Piano and known collectively as One Sydney Harbour, is fast taking shape.
The tallest of Lendlease’s buildings, known as Residences One, is not due for completion until early next year, but it already claims Australia’s most expensive residential sale of $140 million.
The “sky mansion” occupies the top three levels of the 72-storey building, offering a nine-bedroom spread with swimming pool, spa, gymnasium and separate living quarters in the sub-penthouse below.
Residences One in construction under Barangaroo.Credit:Louise Kennerely
More recently, the penthouse in the 60-storey building next door has also sold, with sources saying more than $52 million was paid for the two-storey apartment. The “Skyhome” directly below has also sold to a separate buyer for about $44 million.
Confidentiality orders mean the buyers are expected to remain a secret until the buildings are complete and settlement requires the owners’ names to be lodged on public title records.
No such secrecy remains at Crown’s 71-storey tower next door since settlement began on the apartments last year, revealing a who’s who of billionaires and corporate heavyweights who have collectively coughed up $1.2 billion for apartments.
First revealed as a buyer in 2017 was former Crown chairman and then major shareholder James Packer, whose purchase of a bespoke two-storey apartment was announced to the ASX in 2017 for “more than $60 million” and without “any special treatment on the price”.
It settled four years later for $72,229,573, paid in cash.
A leaked floorplan of Packer’s apartments gives a glimpse of the sort of luxury that the workers trudging the Hungry Mile could only have dreamed of: a grand entry to a vast open-plan living area with double-height ceilings and a curved staircase, formal and informal living rooms, a home cinema, four bedrooms and a home office all with ensuites, a self-contained apartment for staff, gymnasium, spa and a main bedroom with its own living area and “his and her” walk-in wardrobes.
Sharing the building’s swimming pool, tennis court and 24-hour concierge with Packer is his long-time mate Ben Tilley, in a north-facing two-bedder he bought for $8.9 million, and Julie Trethowan, his late father Kerry Packer’s long-time confidante, who paid $24 million in March.
Of the five sales of $40 million or more, one is owned by Mary Tartak, wife of Bingo Industries founder Tony Tartak, and another bought by venture capitalist Bob Blann for $41 million.
Venture capitalist Bob Blann, philanthropists Samantha and Nelson Meers and AirTrunk’s Robin Khuda have been among the buyers of the multimillion-dollar apartments at Barangaroo.
More recently, retired colonel Andrew MacNab and his wife, Melanie, were lured out of their $20 million Centennial Park home to buy a whole-floor apartment for $44 million in June, and Hong Kong commercial property magnate Tony Cheng bought a $40.75 million spread and an $8.5 million pad downstairs.
Nur Jannah Ong Saiful Ong, from Malaysia, is linked to more than $100 million worth of real estate in the tower through various corporate entities, including a whole-floor spread for $42 million, another $17.5 million apartment, and two apartments that sold for $22,399,500 each that are home to brothers William Chuen Wai Lau, a web developer from Hong Kong, and Calvin Chuen Yien Lau, whose business interests include big data companies in China and Malaysian fintech Willvin Tech.
The most recent buyer into the 76-apartment tower is Hunters Hill-based philanthropist Kerry-Anne Johnston, widow of Jaycar Electronics founder Gary Johnston, who bought in September for $20.5 million.
Johnston joins an impressive roll-call of downsizers, including former Sydney lord mayor Nelson Meers, former Rothschild Australia chairman Trevor Rowe, western Sydney developer Arnold Vitocco and hoteliers Angelo and Sandy Elliott.
High-profile entrepreneurs such as AirTrunk’s Robin Khuda, Marketing Gurus’ Andrew Raso, Laser Clinics’ Babak Moini and LoungeBuddy startup founder Zac Altman are also buyers, as are more established names from the business world including Robert Tieck, of the Franklins supermarket family, and billionaire Robert Whyte, linked to an apartment held by corporate entity Clanricarde Investments.
Five years after Crown first took its apartments to market, about eight remain unsold, including its two-storey penthouse for $100 million. Set at the tapered top of the building, it is smaller than Packer’s apartment downstairs but no less endowed: six bedrooms, six bathrooms, two lounge rooms, two kitchens, plunge pool, gymnasium, home cinema and wine room.
An artist’s impression of the $140 million penthouse sold atop Lendlease’s Residences One tower.Credit:
It isn’t just jaw-dropping apartment sales figures and a bevy of names from the rich list that boost Barangaroo’s status as arguably the most expensive neighbourhood in the country.
Census data showed that as of last year, the median weekly household income was already 150 per cent higher than the state average, and at $4591 had eclipsed the incomes of those in well-heeled neighbourhoods Vaucluse and Point Piper.
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