A decision is imminent on the biggest coastal apartment project in Western Australian history, with the Chinese developer behind the $450 million Iconic Scarborough proposal saying it will begin construction within months if its project wins approval from planning authorities.
Perth’s Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority will meet tomorrow to determine 3 Oceans Property’s Scarborough plan, which comprises two towers, one of 43-storeys, on the old Contacio nightclub site on the corner of West Coast Highway and Scarborough Beach Road.
A total of 346 apartments and 158 hotel rooms are included in the proposal, which was designed by local architecture firm Hillam Architects.
Managing director of 3 Oceans, Dyno Zhang, said the MRA’s determination for the project would the culmination of a long journey for the group, which acquired the site in March 2014 and lodged a development application in March this year.
The commitment to start construction without a sales campaign is a departure from the norm in Perth development circles, with project proponents restricted by financiers requiring high levels of pre-sales before development finance is approved.
But with the financial clout of 3 Oceans’ parent company, Hebei Qianjin Steel Group, behind Iconic Scarborough, there are no pre-sales required before construction can commence.
Mr Zhang said he expected to launch a marketing campaign about halfway through the construction process, which would kick off within three to four months of the project’s approval.
“The market is picking up, which is a good sign for everyone in the industry,” Mr Zhang told Australia China Business Review.
“We have been patient for quite a while and there is no hurry to do that any sooner.
“From our point of view, we are here for the long run.
“This is a huge commitment and we want to make sure we get through the major hurdles of the construction risk before we launch to the market.
“We want to take all of the initial risk and pass on a quality product to the customers.”
A crucial component of the development, a footbridge linking the site to popular Scarborough beach, was given in-principle approval by Main Roads WA earlier this week.
If approved, the project would be the tallest coastal development in Western Australia’s history, at more than double Perth’s tallest beachside building, the 18-storey Rendezvous Hotel located across the road from the 3 Oceans site.
Planning guidelines released by the MRA in January 2015 set out specific height limits around the Scarborough beachfront, with the 3 Oceans site recommended to be restricted to 18 storeys.
However, the MRA can be flexible on its determination of an appropriate height if a developer is able to demonstrate a significant community benefit, under a planning framework introduced last year.
As well as the pedestrian bridge linking the project’s 330 public car bays to the beach, 3 Oceans’ proposal includes convention facilities, an art gallery, cafe and viewing platform on the building’s top floor, as well as 4,000 square metres of hospitality and retail amenity.
“I think a lot of people are going to be cheering for it because of the tourism infrastructure, the pedestrian bridge and the vast community benefits, especially people getting access to the beach,” Mr Zhang said.
“There are no public car parking bays available right now at the foreshore, so once our development gets up it will be a huge relief for traffic.
“Potentially there will be 4 million people visiting the foreshore each year in Scarborough, so you can imagine there would be a lot of people waiting at that intersection if the pedestrian bridge cannot be built.
“That’s why the bridge is a very important part of the proposal.”
The state’s largest construction contractor, Multiplex, is expected to sign a building contract soon after an approval is issued.
If the MRA approves 3 Oceans’ plan, the project would be the second major development in Scarborough’s redevelopment area to get the nod, following Cape Bouvard’s $19.5 million proposal at 194 The Esplanade.
Cape Bouvard’s project will comprise 36 luxury apartments over 12-storeys, including six units set aside for affordable housing and an outdoor pool and entertaining area highlighting its communal facilities.
The MRA said the design of the project responded well to the character of Scarborough and Cape Bouvard’s commitment demonstrated investor confidence in the beachside suburb.
A sales campaign has been launched for 194 The Esplanade, which was designed by architecture firm DMG.
Earlier this month, the MRA launched a new initiative to reactivate the Scarborough foreshore, which has been the subject of a $50 million redevelopment work program over the last 14 months.
Planning Minister Rita Saffioti was on hand on December 1 to announce $50,000 in state government funding to support small businesses that had been adversely affected by the construction works.
Construction on the redevelopment area’s flagship asset, a $26 million beachside pool, is complete, with the facility expected to open in early 2018.
Mr Zhang said the pool’s completion was a good sign not only for the foreshore development, but also the entire beachside suburb.
“The area needs cooperation and collaboration between the public and private sector,” he said.
“The pool represents the public, and our development will represent the private.”