GPT proposes Crown St development

Property giant GPT has hinted its decision to axe a $600 million development in Newcastle could be good news for Wollongong and its $250 million West Keira project in the CBD.West Keira, a six-level retail, commercial and residential complex in Keira St, was approved in April 2008 but was put on hold by GPT for "at least two years" because of the global financial crisis.Yesterday, the company said the withdrawal from Newcastle was an opportunity to "redirect capital to alternative development opportunities".The positive outlook was supported by the release of GPT's interim results showing a $145.2 million profit for the six months to June 30.A GPT spokeswoman said a major factor behind the axing of the Newcastle project was intransigence by the State Government and the carrying costs of land holdings bought for the project that were not generating income. This was not the case in Wollongong, she said.Wollongong City Council administrator Robert McGregor said last night the West Keira development was important for the CBD and could be the catalyst to kick-start new development in the city core.He said general manager David Farmer was in regular talks with GPT about its Wollongong venture, but whether to proceed would be a commercial decision for GPT. The Illawarra chapter of the Property Council believes the project is the one with the most flow-on benefits for the CBD, which in turn would help other development projects get off the ground.Property council chair Geoff Jones said at the end of the day GPT would have a number of opportunities around Australia and as a company they were obliged to pursue the most viable and attractive."Hopefully Wollongong sits at the top of the list," he said.At Shellharbour, Stockland is due to begin work on a $310 million redevelopment of its centre within the next 12 months.Mr Jones played down the impact this redevelopment would have on GPT's decision-making process saying the Wollongong CBD's strength lay in its office market and commercial, retail and residential mix.

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