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Property trend: The rise of vertical high streets

John McGrath
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

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As Australia’s international reputation continues to grow, we are witnessing the emergence of a new and more discerning class of apartment buyer that demands a sophisticated world class residential offering. This has given rise to two new property trends, vertical high streets and super apartments. 

With more Australians living in apartments than ever before, our tastes have matured and our expectations for high rise living have soared. Apartments are no longer just about affordability, they are about lifestyle, convenience and definitely a little bit of luxury. 

Developers are not only amping up the wow factor in terms of style, design and in-house facilities and services, they are also looking for ways to add lifestyle value by incorporating retail and dining precincts within and around the developments themselves. 

Welcome to the vertical high street. Luxury apartments with every possible convenience at your doorstep. It is the type of lifestyle that wouldn’t be out of place in major international cities and both local and overseas developers can see a growing market for it in Australia. 

As revealed in our latest annual McGrath Report, vertical high streets come in many forms. 

The first is luxury apartment towers with a serious emphasis on amazing services and facilities such as a 24-hour concierge, private bars, cinemas and even virtual golf studios that allow residents to play the world’s top courses. 

Among Australia’s new luxury apartments is Melbourne’s first six-star residential and retail development, Capitol Grand in South Yarra. 

The 50-storey property, which has movie star Charlize Theron as an ambassador, will offer residents private dining rooms, libraries, a cinema, an underground car wash and a 24-hour concierge. An extensive landscaped rooftop will feature cabanas for private dining and outdoor entertaining. 

On the Gold Coast, the $1B Jewel development will feature a five-star hotel and 512 luxury apartments. Amenities include resort-style pools, private bars and casual and fine dining restaurants. 

Vertical high streets often have a transformative impact on their immediate surrounds. In Sydney, Barangaroo has drawn many city tenants away from the CBD, leaving many old office buildings ready for re-purposing into luxury residential towers. This is leading to a revitalisation of George Street and Circular Quay, where keen developers are snapping up prime sites with harbour views. 

The planned $1B redevelopment of Gold Fields House into One Circular Quay is one such project set to rejuvenate the area with its five-star hotel and boutique retail premises complementing 190 luxury private residences. 

We are also seeing more vertical high streets in suburban areas where new apartments are increasingly popping up above existing shopping centres, which usually undergo a major upgrade at the same time. Top Ryde City in Sydney’s northern districts is a great example. 

Some residential developers are incorporating brand new retail and dining precincts into their blueprints. These precincts are separate to the apartments and open to the public but form an important part of the lifestyle package that every buyer is purchasing. 

In Sydney, Meriton’s Mascot Central incorporates several towers of about 800 apartments along with a brand new retail precinct including 17 shops, eateries and a full line Woolworths. 

In the prestige apartment sector, Australia is now following in the footsteps of the world’s leading cities by providing an even greater premium living experience in the form of super apartments for ultra high net worth (UHNWI) clientele. 

In New York, super apartments such 40 Bond Street in Manhattan’s NoHo district provide residents with services like personal grocery shopping and pet walking. 

The Aldyn on the Upper West Side has a rock climbing wall, indoor basketball court, indoor pool, a bike room, bowling alley and a golf simulator; while Austin Nichols House in Williamsburg has a recording studio for musically-inclined residents. 

In London, One Hyde Park in Knightsbridge – known as the world’s most expensive residential block, offers residents a pool, spa, squash court, gym, wine cellar and a virtual golf course. 

Among Australia’s super apartments are the Opera Residences at Circular Quay, where the penthouse sold for a new national apartment record of $27M in late 2016 to a Sydney couple. The previous national apartment record was $26M paid only days earlier by another local family for the adjoining penthouse in the Opera Residences. 

In early 2015, $25M was paid for the penthouse of Melbourne’s Australia 108 development. At 319 metres, the Southbank tower will be one of Australia’s tallest residential buildings. Amenities include two infinity pools, a golf simulator, five gyms and seven private dining rooms. 

The customer base for both luxury vertical high streets and super apartments is rising, with Australia’s resident population of HNWIs and UHNWIs increasing and more of the globe’s rich buying second homes here. 

In 2016, an estimated 11,000 HNWIs moved to Australia, making us the world’s No 1 destination for millionaire inflows for the second consecutive year, according to the 2017 Global Wealth Migration Review by New World Wealth.

The evolution of apartment living in Australia has only just begun. Buyers at all price levels are demanding a better living experience, with quality, uniqueness and lifestyle factors becoming as important to them as value for money when looking for a new home.

Published: Tuesday, February 13, 2018

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