Luxury high-rises combine the comforts of home with resort-style amenities

When a mystery buyer paid an estimated $140 million for a living space in the One Sydney Harbour development in October, it set a record price for real estate in Australia. It also represented the denouement of the luxury high-rise trend throughout the country’s capital cities and resort areas of the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast. The three buildings of the Renzo Piano-designed One Sydney Harbour complex are scheduled to open in 2023.

The record-setting residence will compromise a two-storey penthouse and another penthouse, totalling nine bedrooms and about 1600 square metres. A news release from Lendlease highlighted the private rooftop pool, spa, gym, and master bedroom “bigger than most homes.” Whilst this may be the most lavish example, it is hardly alone as luxury high-rises begin to dominate the skyline.

Resort Life

These luxury high-rise developments are characterised by the amenities they offer. OSK Property’s Melbourne Square in Southbank will feature a 3700-square-metre park and resort-style pool. The $2.8 billion project will also boast a Skye Club, theatre, golf simulator, and private meeting and dining rooms.

“The whole aim was to provide amenities where people can get to know their neighbours, really foster a sense of community within the building and create this amazing health and wellbeing development that’s anchored by the park at the front of the site,” interior designer Chris McCue told Domain.

Waterloo Mastery, a $500 million luxury high-rise development from Crown Group will have 374 apartments across five buildings when it opens in 2021. It “will provide Sydneysiders an option to live in the finest resort-style destination, in the most sought-after architectural precinct, at an affordable price,” project director Prisca Edwards told the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

Builder Icon is set to finish construction on the Shakespeare Group’s $350 million three-building St Boulevard project on Melbourne’s St Kilda road in 2020. The 420 Elenberg Fraser-designed apartments will give residents access to a heated lagoon and lap pool, complete with resort-style pavilions and water sunbeds, among other amenities. Sales agent Colliers said the development is 90 per cent sold.

“We understand that there is an increasing demand for luxury apartments designed for residents to call home,” Shakespeare Group director Catherine Law told the Urban Developer. “It is an excellent proposition for young professionals, families, and downsizers.”

Who’s Buying?

luxury high rises, the venture magazineAs Law indicated, many buyers are those retiring and moving out of large homes where they raised their families into apartments in what Fiducia Property Group dubs “rightsizing.” In developments such as those pioneered by Frasers Property Group, they find all the charms and amenities of a neighbourhood.

“After considerable research, we pioneered the concept of the super-neighbourhood centre, generally defined as a centre 10,000 to 30,000 square metres in size, anchored by a supermarket, and with a mix of retailers specifically tailored to the local catchment, with an entertainment and food and beverage focus,” Frasers Executive General Manager for Retail Peri Macdonald told VENTURE. “In other words, the convenience of a local neighbourhood centre on a larger scale.”

Whilst investors from mainland China have been a steady source of business for luxury high-rises, the continuing unrest in Hong Kong has prompted a wave of Hongkongers to buy in Australia as well. Michael Pallier of Sydney Sotheby’s International Realty told the ABC in October that enquiries from Hong Kong were up 500 per cent compared to 2018. “It’s not only Hong Kong Chinese, there are just as many expats that are contacting us,” he said.

Some buyers are enticed by customised made-to-order apartments that attract actual residents as opposed to investors who never live in the spaces. Developers “need to look for new markets, and the large group of owner-occupiers who would like to buy family-friendly apartments — not the Legoland dog boxes that have previously been built for investors — is an obvious market for developers today,” Metropole Property Strategists CEO Michael Yardley told Your Investment Property.

Ghost Towers 

Yardley believes the made-to-order trend could counter the phenomenon of “ghost towers,” luxury high-rises that stand mostly empty in big cities. Part of the cause is that foreign investors buy units hoping to flip them for a profit. This decreases available housing whilst leaving buildings in prime real estate areas with few actual residents.

luxury high rises, the venture magazineAnother issue is that construction outpaced demand in some areas, resulting in a glut of available apartments. “We’ve come through a massive apartment boom in Sydney, and now we’re at peak supply,” My Housing Market chief economist Dr Andrew Wilson told the ABC in June.

As Australia’s population continues to rise, those units will eventually fill. Housing prices finally going on the rise after a downturn will prompt investors to sell to people who will actually occupy the units and make their homes there and put their own marks on luxury high-rises.

“With more Australians trading backyards for balconies, this new trend will be welcomed by the many homebuyers who are planning to purchase an apartment,” Yardney said.