Iris Group snares Newcastle’s ‘East End’ site

The Newcastle site is spread over four city blocks.
The Newcastle site is spread over four city blocks.

Prominent Sydney hotel owner and developer Iris Group has paid $39 million for a Newcastle site that carries approval for a major mixed-use project.

The deal will see the expanding Iris Group pick up the site, which can accommodate a 55,000sqm residential, retail and office development, from the listed GPT Group and the state-owned UrbanGrowth NSW.

The property, known as the East End Portfolio, covers four city blocks and 1.66ha of premium land, and had been owned by the pair for some years.

The property recently won development approval from the NSW Joint Regional Planning Panel for 47,800sqm of residential space, 4900sqm of retail, and 2700sqm of office space.

Iris Capital chief executive Sam Arnaout says the project is “world class” and has the potential to rival international destinations, with about 500 luxury apartments to be developed.

“This site has the characteristics of some of the most beautiful destinations in the world,” Arnaout says.

Iris Capital chief executive Sam Arnaout. Picture: Chris Pavlich

Iris Capital chief executive Sam Arnaout. Picture: Chris Pavlich

“The grand heritage buildings and the history of the area lends itself to a gentrified development of an urban, seaside village.”

Arnaout says the NSW government’s $500 million commitment to revitalise the Newcastle City Centre was another consideration for the group.

He says his company has previously focused on Sydney-based projects and the move into the Newcastle market was prompted by his enthusiasm for the East End site and his move to the region. His family alternate between homes in Sydney and the Hunter Valley, where he has other interests.

Savills director, residential site sales, Stuart Cox, who managed the marketing campaign with Neil Cooke and Ben Azar, says the development will be a significant addition for New­castle, creating a vertical village the likes of which the city has never seen before.

Cooke says Newcastle has undergone an economic turnaround, including a significant rise in the construction of inner city apartment dwellings with ­little supply available for owner-occupiers and investors.

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