Properties

Real estate investment in Fremantle, Perth: Riverside views in a modern metropolis

America’s cup impetus for twin cities.

May 11, 2017 | By Bruce Maxwell

When Australia defended the America’s Cup yachting trophy in Perth and its port Fremantle in 1987, the largest hotel in town was the eight-storey Hilton, which had a “Chinese Suite” in its upper reaches. An ornate lacquered screen was the pièce de résistance. The general manager explained to visiting media that Perth needed such a fancy hotel because a mining boom was taking place “up north”, and the miners needed somewhere to “kick off their boots”.

The modern metropolis that has emerged in the 30 years since is due in no small part to the America’s Cup kick-start it received then. Nobody had taken “the auld mug” off the New York Yacht Club in 132 years when Australia 11 won in 1983, and it seemed the world had descended on sleepy Perth and Fremantle to try to get it back, which Dennis Conner duly did.

It wasn’t just Australia Vs U.S.A., Europeans could compete too, and Fremantle was rapidly transformed from a very basic fishing port into a lively big village in which the Gucci-backed Italians were particularly prominent. Superyachts arrived, some owned by wealthy Japanese, also in the AC hunt. It was the decade of the entrepreneur. Australian syndicate boss Alan Bond personified the moment, with his Southern Cross superyacht and lavish properties.

Bond’s fortunes nose-dived in the 1990s, and he served four years in gaol for financial fraud, but it should be noted that his Dalkeith bolthole sold for AUD 39 million (approx. USD 29 million) in 2011. This was the second highest property deal in Western Australia after mining magnate Chris Ellison’s Mosman Park property, which notched AUD 57 million (approx. USD 41.3 million) in 2009. Bond died in 2015 aged 77, and his real estate agent daughter Jody Fewster recently sold his original swish seaside Cottesloe abode for AUD 3.95 million (approx. USD 2.94 million), down on the AUD 4.75 million (approx. USD 3.54 million) asking price.

Perth, now full of highrises, but retaining some charms of an earlier era, is the same distance from Singapore as it is from Australia’s East Coast, giving rise to a trans-Australia “them and us” notion that persists today. It’s easy access has led to, for example, Singapore and Malaysian- owned golf courses. One Singaporean is presently building an 84 meters superyacht down the coast.

Apart from “in between” Swan River frontages, Fremantle is now a city in its own right, only 20 km from Perth’s Central Business District (CBD). It has activities, markets and properties that one could equally describe as quaint, funky or ultra-modern. Located three kilometres from Perth’s city centre, Echelon River Residences is a new development by award-winning architecture studio Giorgi Exclusive. Offering 12 ultra-luxury riverfront residences, the project features two “Sky Residences” (one now sold), and is priced from AUD 5.25 million (approx. USD 3.9 million) to AUD 7.5 million (approx. USD 5.6 million).

View of Perth CBD

Further south, the Margaret River wine region, is forging a formidable reputation as a home, or home-away-from-home, for wealthy Western Australian dwellers. Really, the whole coastline is open to all comers, bearing in mind that this is where eastbound gales, known as the Roaring Forties, first hit the Australian continent.

An analysis of Perth real estate last year by PerthNow found that AUD 218 million (approx. USD 162 million) worth of properties had been sold in only 10 streets over 12 months “as Western Australia’s elite continue to splash out for prestige Riverside Road interior addresses. Despite a slowdown in the general market, sales are still booming in select streets, with Mosman Park’s Wellington Street the top performer. Nine homes sold at an average price of AUD 3.68 million (approx. USD 2.74 million), according to independent government authority Landgate”.

Perth agent William Porteous comments that “in Sydney, London and New York, the luxury market has reached levels where AUD 30 to AUD 40 million (approx. USD 22 to USD 30 million) is no longer uncommon, so for those with the cash to spend, the opportunity is here. While luxury homes around the AUD 7 to AUD 8 million (approx. USD 5.2 to USD 6 million) mark have retracted from previous highs, buyers are still coming out of the woodwork for select properties. These are young professionals making their way into the tightly held streets”, he said.

An East Perth penthouse has been offered at AUD 27.5 million (approx. USD 20.5 million), making it Australia’s biggest and most expensive if sold for the asking price. An AUD 25 million (approx. USD 18.6 million) penthouse in Melbourne bought last year is the present record holder.The Western Australian vendor is property developer Ian Johnson, whose marketing is largely done through Chinese websites with Chinese-subtitled videos. “Bondy” would have applauded his enterprise, but given the sophisticated analysis done by most foreign buyers today, such a strategy seems hopeful.

ON THE MARKET

ECHELON RIVER RESIDENCES,
SOUTH PERTH


With just two units on each floor, this luxurious 12-residence development offers sweeping vistas of Perth City and its surrounding areas. This riverfront site features offices and a restaurant on its lower levels, with two unique top floor “Sky Residences” bearing four-metre ceilings and first-class furnishing. These units range from 2,690 square feet to 2,777 square feet in internal floor space.

PRICE: AUD 7.5 million (approx. USD 5.6 million), CONTACT: Prestige International www.prestigepg.com.au

4/2 RIVERSIDE ROAD, EAST FREMANTLE

This luxurious riverside penthouse offers spectacular views amid a vibrant cafe culture on the Swan River. Stroll to restaurants, the Left Bank, and the bars and shops on George St. Superbly appointed home has top quality fittings with natural stone and timber detailing.

PRICE: AUD 4.5 million (approx. USD 3.37 million), CONTACT: LJ Hooker Claremont www.claremont.ljhooker.com.au

This article was first published under Special Features in Palace 18.