Japanese developer Sekisui House steps into the void left by exiting Chinese

An artist’s impression of the $121m development planned for East and West Quarters St Leonards.

Japanese developer Sekisui House has become the latest player to capitalise on the tide of Chinese developers exiting, picking up a major site on Sydney’s north shore from two companies for close to $110m.

Sekisui bought the St Leonards site as the Chinese developers sought to sell down their exposure to the unpredictable high-rise market.

The Japanese company has snapped up a site spanning two streets and 16 homes that is set to be developed into more than 200 units.

It was sold by developers CIFI St Leonards – a unit of a Hong Kong listed company – and Greaton, which is best known for The Ribbon project at Darling Harbour.

The pair had plans to build five buildings standing up to nine storeys on a block of land bordered by Berrys Rd, River Rd and Holdsworth Ave. The development was to have about 230 units across the entire site, along with communal open space, a swimming pool, kids paddle pool, a public walkway, and carparks.

While Greaton is best known for its development of the Darling Harbour complex that includes a W Hotel it also has holdings in the CBD and in Adelaide.

The CIFI unit and Greaton respectively held 60 per cent and 40 per cent interests in the property. CIFI agreed to sell its stake interest for $66.3m and Greaton sold its 40 per cent for $44.2m.

CIFI flagged it would take an $11.13m loss on the exit but Sekisui now has the chance to develop a site with a total gross floor area of about 22,800sq m.

CIFI cited the need to ease its offshore liquidity pressure and to finance its business operation as reasons for selling. It also called out interest rate hikes and the rise in construction costs in Australia.

Chinese developer Country Garden last month took another step towards exiting Australia after agreeing to sell its stake in a $2bn masterplanned community on the outskirts of Sydney.

Its local subsidiary Risland Australia agreed to sell its interest in the 330ha Wilton Greens development about 65km southwest of Sydney.

Sydney-based residential developer Avantaus will pay $US157m ($240m) for the stake. Avantaus has not commented.

Risland last year sold a separate St Leonards site.

In 2022, the exodus of Chinese developers from the local property scene was shown when Hong Kong-listed China Aoyuan Group handed over control of its local operation in a move that saw it take a $245m loss.

Rivals including Poly and Shimao have also put assets up for sale as the property cycle turns against them, while Greenland and AW Holding Group sold assets.