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Chinese developer to transform Parramatta

SMH  | By Toby Johnstone

It’s known for building mega communities in the Chinese city of Wuhan where thousands of residents live in 50-storey towers.

It’s a real estate giant that develops more than 1 million square metres of property a year and is part of a conglomerate that annually turns over more than $8 billion.

And it has arrived in Sydney with plans to dramatically develop the banks of the Parramatta River with a $550 million project comprising 774 apartments starting next month.

Starryland Australia, an offshoot of China’s Fuxing Huiyu Real Estate Company, is building Promenade – an 11-tower, 12-storey development that will create a new “gateway” to Sydney’s second city.

“Promenade is in keeping with the style of residential communities we create in China,” Starryland Australia director Hao Liu said. “We want it to set a benchmark to establish our credentials in Sydney as a quality developer.”

The agent entrusted with selling the project, Irene Lau of Savills, said buyer interest had been strong.

“A lot of parents have their kids coming into Australia to study . . . so the parents say: ‘OK, we can put them there’.”

Local couples and retirees had also shown interest, Ms Lau said.

On Saturday the first two buildings comprising 124 apartments were offered to registered parties at the Park Royal in Parramatta.

All sold at the weekend with prices ranging from $399,000 for an “open plan” one-bedroom apartment to $900,000 for a three-bedroom unit.

A further 153 apartments will be offered at the official launch in late June when the display apartment has been built.

Compared with developments in China, Ms Lau said Promenade was small-time.

“In Wuhan they sell like 1000 units a day,” she said.

Starryland Australia has no plans to stop at Parramatta. On top of its $58 million land acquisition in Sydney’s west the firm has spent $18 million securing a prime development site in Melbourne’s Southbank.

“They’ve come here and they want to be a long-term player in the market,” Ms Lau said.

“They want to do big developments. They have many plans . . . and they have the money.

“Basically in China they are one of the big boys.”

Mr Liu confirmed that the company was on the hunt for more prime development sites but said competition from other Chinese developers was fierce.

He said Fuxing Huiyu had picked Australia because of its stable market and immigration flows.

“It is a lot easier to emigrate to Australia than America or Europe,” he said.

“We know that in Australia there is a big potential market as more and more Chinese emigrate.”

Brian Caba, of Ray White Castle Hill, recently sold two townhouses next to the development and said the local response to the project had been positive.

“There is a large Asian community in Parramatta,” he said.

“The restaurants and shops that will come with the development will likely boost prices in the area.”

The development will sit next to the 2.3 hectare Baludarri Wetland, home to more than 60 bird species as well as 50 native plant varieties.

The west side of the project will look over Rangihou Reserve, which made local headlines last year when a sacred Maori burial ground was supposedly discovered.

It’s a collaboration between Smart Design Studio, landscape architect Aspect and Starryland Australia.

Chinese-backed companies have been a large part of the apartment building boom that has gripped Sydney.

China’s state-owned Greenland Group is now spending $600 million building Sydney’s tallest residential tower. The Greenland Centre on Bathurst Street in the city will be 235 metres high and comprise 470 apartments when complete in 2017.

Chinese-backed Bridgehill Projects also made waves last year when it reportedly forked out more than $90 million for a 1.8 hectare plot in Zetland. The group has plans to build more than 400 apartments on the site, which will soon become the Green Square Town Centre. Bridgehill also has development sites in Mascot and Milsons Point.

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