Rich-lister Tim Gurner’s build-to-rent partnership with alternative asset manager Qualitas (ASX: QAL) has been granted fast-tracked approval to proceed with a $450 million mixed-use tower in Paramatta.
The development, which will deliver 390 apartments across 61 levels, is touted by the partners as the first to get a green light by the NSW Government since its State Significant Acceleration initiative was introduced last year to encourage more build-to-rent projects.
Plans for the Parramatta project were lodged in mid-2022 and Gurner Group says the project was the first build-to-rent development to be assessed and approved under the government’s Rapid Assessment Framework.
This sets up the GQ Multifamily Build-to-Rent platform (GQ), which is owned by Gurner Group and Qualitas, to start construction in the third quarter of this year.
The latest approval comes on the heels of news that GQ secured a $2 billion capital injection from an offshore institutional investor this year to pursue more build-to-rent opportunities in Sydney.
The Parramatta project will include the 4,000sqm of commercial and retail space, while residents will have access to a health and wellness ‘sanctuary’ and gym, lap pool, co-working spaces, as well as rooftop pool, spas and other recreational amenities.
“We are incredibly proud to have achieved planning approval for this amazing building in Parramatta,” says Gurner.
“We are strong believers in the huge change occurring in Parramatta and look forward to adding to the precinct in a positive way.”
Gurner, who has an estimated net worth of $788 million, says Parramatta is the first of many projects to be delivered by the GQ partnership to capitalise on ‘record demand and growth’ in what he believes is one of the strongest markets in Australia.
“We are glad that the project’s many benefits, that go beyond just what is available to residents, stood out to the NSW Government, and that they were able to grant approval in such a short period of time.
“These sorts of planning measures that cut red tape and speed up approvals are pivotal to Australia’s capital cities as housing supply continues to be an issue. We would love to see more of these schemes implemented in other capital cities.”
Gurner sees faster approvals as a key to addressing housing affordability issues, calling for greater co-operation at the federal level as well.
“Sydney, and Australia more broadly, are heading towards a material undersupply with no solution in sight,” he says.
“State and federal government must work hand in hand with the industry to work out how they deal with this ongoing crisis before affordability is out of reach to the majority.
“Without a large increase in supply in the coming years Australian rents and property prices are likely to continue soaring to new levels.”
Qualitas co-founder and global head of real estate Mark Fischer sees build-to-rent projects as critical to addressing supply shortages in the property market.
“To be the first project approved under the government’s new Build-to-Rent State Significant Acceleration pathway is a milestone not only for the GQ platform, but also signifies the beginning of the way that programs of this nature can assist in meeting the objectives of our big cities to house a growing population,” he says.
“Based on analysis undertaken by the GQ platform of other global real estate markets, we have long held the view that the gateway cities in Australia would benefit from having planning frameworks that encourage the timely delivery of rental housing supply.”
The GQ partnership, which has $3.5 billion in total assets under management, has an existing portfolio of over 1,400 apartments and a proposed development pipeline of 3,500 units.
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