Perth tower gets go-ahead

Australian Financial Review

12th March 2015.

West Australian planning authorities have given the go-ahead for a 38-storey tower with 145 apartments and a 70-key hotel in South Perth.

The 129-metre building will be Perth's first glass curtain wall residential skyscraper, giving uninterrupted floor to ceiling glass in all apartments.

The approval of Westbridge Property Group's tower is the latest development in a spurt of activity taking place across the river from the central business district, after the City of South Perth changed guidelines in 2013 to permit higher buildings.

"Not a lot has been built in South Perth over the last 10 to 15 years and I think it is a recognised view of the City of South Perth that they would like to see their suburb grow up," Westbridge managing director Matthew McNeilly said.

Last weekend, Perth's biggest apartment builder Finbar recorded 73 sales worth $65.7 million in its 118-apartment Aurelia project, also in South Perth.

Perth unit prices have fallen almost 1 per cent over the first two months of the year, according to CoreLogic RP Data, with a median price of $433,000. On average, a Perth unit takes 83 days to sell compared with 40 days in Melbourne and just 26 days in Sydney.

Mr McNeilly, whose private equity firm Sirona Capital formed the Westbridge joint venture with developer Luke Saraceni to build high-rise towers, said the Glass House development will target owner-occupiers rather than investors and was better designed than most apartments in the city.

"I don't quite get in the past why every Perth apartment is built with a balcony," he said. "Given we have 20 to 25-knot breezes blowing through the city each afternoon, it's kind of useless space. The opportunity has been to internalise the balconies. Woods Bagot was very clever in its design to do that"

Locals would be willing to pay the prices that started at $475,000 and went up to $10 million for a two-level, 500 square metre penthouse, Mr McNeilly said.

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