Positive signs for Illawarra property market

We recently lost an icon in the Port Kembla stack, but that was in itself a symbol of positive change.

That was one view expressed by MMJ Commercial Leasing director Michael Croghan, who described 2014 as a year of transition at a recent Property Council lunch.

Mr Croghan said it was important not to be too optimistic because not everything would happen overnight.

But he revealed some regional investment highlights worth more than $2 billion that included projects recently completed, close to completion or about to start.

He said there were also many positive things happening in Wollongong, such as the opening of the new ATO building and arrival of major players into the market such as Folkestone Funds Management.

Folkestone recently purchased and started a major upgrade of the government tenanted office building in Burelli Street.

It also expressed interest in the old ATO building and had plans for a major upgrade.

"Wollongong is becoming more on the radar of the big guys and the perception is changing," Mr Croghan said.

He said Wollongong's affordability, liveability and projects such as the GPT development, mall upgrade and Shell Cove Marina were all contributing to the growing interest.

Mr Croghan said it was great to see things starting to happen with some of the big strategic land sites such as the Quattro, Oxford Tavern, Langs Corner and Dwyers sites.

He said they were all sites that had been delayed by the GFC but were now in the hands of people who could deliver.

But he warned that would take time.

And with an office vacancy rate of 11.1 per cent no major new building with any significant office space would be completed within one to two years.

"But my view is it won't be long until that supply is taken up," he said.

Lead investment list

While it was not his main message Michael Croghan finished his presentation at a recent Property Council outlook lunch by producing a list of regional property investment highlights worth more than $2billion.

Mr Croghan’s list included more than $1.125 billion in projects presently under construction without including the NBN rollout.

They included GPT’s shopping centre development, Wollongong City Mall upgrade,  Wollongong Hospital redevelopment and multi-deck car park, Illawarra Cancer Centre expansion, Shell Cove’s Boat Harbour development, new Flinders train station, Cement Australia’s new plant, and the Princes Highway upgrade near Gerringong.

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