Asian Investment Heads North - Epping:  Melbourne's Fast-growing Outer Suburb

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Property development and investment group Riverlee has purchased 215 Cooper Street, Epping, a 46-hectare former quarry and landfill   site   approximately   19km   north of Melbourne’s CBD. The site was purchased in partnership with Malaysian publicly listed company Batu Kawan Berhad (BKB) in an off-market deal for $14 million.

The site marks the BKB Group’s first real estate investment in Australia.

The partnership mentioned that it was rare to find such a large, well-located and under-utilised infill site in such a premium urban area. The site has remained vacant for the past 17 years and is one of the last remaining links in the Epping Central Activity Centre.

Riverlee Deputy Managing Director, Kevin Lee commented on the purchase, saying “we are working closely with the City of Whittlesea and other key stakeholders in the area, and have been overwhelmed by the support and encouragement to see something delivered on the site.” The Riverlee/BKB purchase coincides with massive economic growth and financial investment in Epping Central from government and the private sector. “We consider this an exciting opportunity to bring life to a site that has been inactive for nearly two decades, and deliver something great for the local community”.

Epping Central is the City of Whittlesea’s Metropolitan Activity Centre, which was recently signed off by Planning Minister Richard Wynne as one of 5 new Activity Centres around Melbourne.

The City of Whittlesea is the second fastest growing municipality in Victoria.

The site is strategically nestled between many of Epping’s heavyweights & anchors:

The Northern Hospital, Epping Plaza Shopping Centre, and future Costco to the East;

  • Northpoint Enterprise Park and Bunnings to the North;
  • The new Melbourne Wholesale Fruit, Vegetable and Flower Market to the West;
  • Residential interface to the South

The vision for the Riverlee/BKB site is to create a master- planned mixed-use precinct that integrates with the adjoining health, retail, residential and commercial zones surrounding the site. Mr Lee noted that “although the site does come with some complexities given its historical use as a quarry and landfill site, we see great potential. Cooper Street currently carries 42,000 vehicles per day and this will increase to 59,000 vehicles per day by 2021. In terms of location, convenience and amenity, this site is as good as it gets.”The investment by BKB, represented by Thomson Geer Partner, Eu Ming Lim, is significant in the type and location of investment by an established overseas listed group. Mr Lim noted that it marks a shift from the typical CBD and inner city type developments to a more integrated development which includes a greater variety of housing types and commercial uses. This shows the maturity and foresight of BKB to partner with a local reputable developer like Riverlee and provide a greater choice for the wider Australian market, according to Mr Lim.

Interview with Dato’ Lee Hau Hian the Managing Director of BKB

[creativ_columns structure=”50|50″][creativ_col position=”a”]AE: Why has BKB chosen now to enter the Australian real estate market?

BKB: Australia is a stable and developed economy with a growing population fueling housing demand.This was a unique opportunity for BKB to co-invest in a sizeable infill site located strategically in the center of Epping – a mature and bustling neighborhood.

TAE: What attracted BKB to Melbourne over other cities?

BKB: Melbourne offers a tremendous amount of cultural attractions, world class sports events and festivals, some of the best universities and schools, well-connected infrastructure and strong economy which makes it consistently rated as the world’s most livable city.

Having Riverlee as a joint venture partner made it an easy decision for us to invest here as Riverlee has a long track record of delivering reputable projects across Melbourne.

TAE: What potential do you see in Epping as a suburb?

BKB: We like Epping’s location in the heart of the Northern Growth Corridor. We are convinced of the area’s growth potential as it will benefit from many of the planned investments by the government and private sector.

The Planning Minister has also identified Epping Central, which is where our site is, as one of the five new activity centers in Melbourne.

TAE: How will BKB’s experience in Asia contribute to their developments in Australia?

BKB: The BKB Group is experienced in property development. Throughthepropertyarm of oursubsidiary Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad, we are currently undertaking a 405 Hectare township development just outside Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia.

Through our experiences learnt from developing properties, we look forward to contribute new ideas and expertise that complements the local Australian property scene. At the same time, we also hope to learn and bring back new ideas and best practices to Malaysia.

Being a large public listed company in Malaysia with healthy financial resources, BKB can assure all Epping stakeholders that the project will be on sound financial footing throughout the entire life span of the project.

TAE: What is your vision for the 215 Cooper St Epping?

BKB: To deliver a thriving mixed development that all communities in Epping can be proud of for many generations to come.

[/creativ_col][creativ_col position=”b”]About BKB Group
BKB is an investment holding company principally involved in plantations, manufacturing of industrial chemicals, and property investments. As at June 2015 the company held a market capitalisation of $2.69bn. BKB also owns several cereal and sheep farms in Western Australia through its Malaysian public listed subsidiary, Kuala Lumpur Kepong.

About Riverlee
Riverlee is a Melbourne based private property development and investment group specializing in commercial and residential projects. Completed projects include 108 Flinders Street in Melbourne, World Trade Centre Melbourne, Jaques in Richmond, 370 Docklands Drive in Docklands, Wyndham Waters in Williams Landing and The Reserve in Tarneit. Riverlee recently launched its housing estate Haven in Wollert, also within the City of Whittlesea. [/creativ_col][/creativ_columns][/wlm_ismember]