Golf course estates are on the rise in Sydney

Monday 25 July 2016
“There are two great views to capitalise on in Australia,” says Eugene Marchese, principal and chairman of architecture firm Marchese Partners. “The beach view or the golf course.”

Marchese has just finished designing a collection of luxury torrens-title townhouses named Parvenu overlooking Strathfield Golf Club.

While most land in Sydney that has even a cameo peek of a beach has been developed into housing, the peaceful green vistas of our golf courses remain relatively ignored.

At the same time as housing demand continues, governments and developers have turned their attention to the valuable real estate owned by golf clubs. Sydney alone has 38 square kilometres of land devoted to the sport. With 91 courses in its metropolitan area, Sydney has more land dedicated to golf than any other major city in the world.

Participation rates in the sport are dropping, however, and some clubs are struggling to remain financially viable. Enter the ever-hungry housing sector.

On Saturday, Mirvac will release the next 22 homes in its Brighton Lakes boutique development. A joint venture between Mirvac and the New Brighton Golf Club has culminated in 300 new architect-designed houses and apartments being built on a prime spot beside established fairways close to the banks of the Georges River in Moorebank.

The project will include the redevelopment of the club house ensuring its future survival, something both current club members and new residents see as an important social aspect of the project.

John Carfi, Mirvac’s head of residential, says they’ve found a general drop in membership of golf clubs. “For any major capital expenditure needed, golf clubs are now looking at releasing surplus land to free up capital in order to upgrade their facilities,” he says. That need fits nicely with the shortage of land for housing. “It’s logical for a community to free up land for housing and also for parkland and in this case, access to the river,” he adds. “It’s a trend that is increasing in pretty much all areas of the city.”

About a third of the homes at Brighton Lakes since its first release in 2015 have exchanged already, with sell-outs at each release to Mirvac’s VIP client data base.

Carfi is not surprised by the popularity of the project. “You may or may not be a golfer but overlooking a professionally maintained golf course is very appealing,” he says. “Also, as humans, we like to watch other humans. So you can sit at home and watch people playing golf, walking, mingling with each other.”

That broad appeal of living within a golf course environment was not overlooked when housing giant Sekisui House chose a site with an established 18-hole golf course in south-west Sydney’s Gledswood Hills. The masterplanned community The Hermitage is being built on part of the site of Camden Lakeside golf course with streets following some of the original fairways in order to maintain as many existing trees as possible.

Project director Development and Communities for Sekisui House Craig D’Costa says buyers appreciate the mature landscape of The Hermitage. “It’s not a vacant paddock,” says D’Costa. “We’re seeing a consistent theme of people being drawn to The Hermitage for its established character.”

From the outset, Sekisui House’s masterplan design intended to embrace the existing vegetation and green corridors. “We’ve worked on a balance of preservation and creation,” says D’Costa. “We’ve preserved existing trees and established new parks.”

People are aware of the existing 18-hole golf course at The Hermitage but buyers are starting to inquire about the new nine-hole Greg Norman-designed golf course that is under construction. D’Costa says the course will start to look green by the end of the year which he expects will create a spike in inquiry for the company’s SHAWOOD homes planned with views over the fairways.

Then there is the social facet of the club house. As D’Costa says, the great thing about building a residential neighbourhood beside a golf course is people come not just for the recreational facilities but also for the social aspect of a club. “It can become part of the community.”

Developer of the Marchese-designed Parvenu, Phil Leahy of Metro Property, has found that golfers constitute a very small proportion of buyers of his Strathfield development. “We’re not promoting it as a golf course development,” says Leahy. “Yes, you can walk out of your garden and onto the course but more so it’s a private enclave with no through roads.”

Metro Property bought the land in two tranches from Strathfield Golf Club after hearing it was experiencing financial hardship. It has settled on the first site, a practice fairway, and now the club can use the funds to build a new clubhouse with a bar and restaurant facilities on another site within the club’s land.

The project has been very well received by the public. “We know we pushed the envelope a bit with prices from $1.8 million to $2.5 million for the two and three-level townhouses but we were confident because of the quality of the development and the views,” says Leahy.

With such successes, the humble golf club looks to rival the traditional beachside residential development.

Source: - 21.07.16

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