Chinese developer plans Sydney office and hotel skyscraper

Sydney’s CBD could have a new star.
Sydney’s CBD could have a new star.

Chinese development company Greaton Group has proposed a major skyscraper in the Sydney CBD, despite rising political tensions between China and Australia casting a pall over the property sector.

The wave of mainland Chinese developers that have poured billions into projects in Australia over the past decade has ebbed significantly with high-profile exits, including property giant Wanda Dalian making a $1.13bn sale of its Australian projects in 2018.

Industry players told The Australian that Beijing had indicated mainland developers should wind back their commitments to local projects, although many are involved in the country’s largest projects.

Privately held Chinese group Aqualand alone has projects ranging from a $1bn North Sydney apartment scheme to a $2.5bn precinct at Central Barangaroo.

China’s Ping An Real Estate, alongside Japan’s Mitsubishi Estate Asia, is also backing Lendlease as it builds the $2bn Circular Quay Tower, with the 263-metre tower to become Sydney’s tallest office building and accommodate US company Salesforce.

And other Chinese groups are buying.

Notably, Chinese sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corporation is in talks to buy a half stake in Sydney’s landmark Grosvenor Place in a deal valuing the entire tower at about $2bn. The deal is yet to be finalised but the fund already owns a quarter stake in the building.

Greaton picked up its site in Sydney’s Haymarket in a deal worth about $146m in 2018 from union group United Voice.

It was initially seen as likely to build an apartment tower but now an office scheme is being planned.

The scheme would see a 226m tower built on the site where a 10-storey office building now stands.

Greaton declined to comment but council documents show it plans to deliver 47,000sqm of commercial floor space in a 47-storey tower consisting of retail, commercial, innovation and hotel space.

The proposal includes an innovation tech hub in the podium and low-rise floors, to deliver affordable innovation space, labs and equipment for small and start-up companies, in keeping with plans for a tech hub around nearby Central station.

Office space will comprise up to 20 storeys across the low-rise and high-rise sections and a top-class hotel will be located in the upper 10 storeys.

The company is a major investor in the area and in February snapped up the development and construction rights to The Ribbon project from Grocon, as the Melbourne developer shifts to other developments, particularly in the build-to-rent sector.

Greaton in 2016 struck an initial agreement to buy the $730m hotel property that will become Sydney’s new W Hotel. That sweeping 25-storey curvilinear building will house more than 400 rooms and 140 serviced apartments, as well as an IMAX theatre.

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