Brisbane-based funds manager IJ Capital has swooped on the $450 million The Aviary Toowong development and immediately laid plans to double down on the property with a $1 billion mixed-use development that the new owner says will create a new community hub for the suburb.
The $53 million sale of the 9,000sqm Aviary site follows a stalling of the project by partners Ray White Capital and State Development Corporation due to uncertainty over construction costs.
However, Scott Lai, the CEO of IJ Capital, has revealed the upsized development is being repositioned as an upmarket development that he says will meet the sustained demand for this style of product in Brisbane.
“This project will target the middle to top end of the market and will be totally different in quality and design to The Aviary,” Lai tells Business News Australia.
“We are planning a better design, a more architectural design with more community space.”
The Aviary, a two-tower development, was planned by the RW Capital-led syndicate for the 9,000sqm site on the corner of Sherwood Road and High Street.
Despite strong sales in the residential tower, the development hit the wall due to cost pressures, leading IJ Capital to step in after teaming up with the owner of the adjoining site at 80-88 Jephson Street.
The partnership has created a 1.3ha holding in the heart of Toowong upon which IJ Capital plans to develop the proposed Toowong Central development and deliver 25,000sqm of retail-commercial space and a mix of residential apartments across four towers.
“It will be a new community precinct with better community space, better design and more commercial activities than the original proposal,” Lai says.
“We want to make this an iconic development for western Brisbane.”
IJ Capital is retaining State Development Corporation, led by Ross McKinnon, as development manager of the Toowong Central project.
"We are delighted that the purchaser will look to develop the property,” McKinnon says.
“Since launching the development in 2020, we have received overwhelming support from council, local residents and retail tenants, and we have no doubt that once built, the project will provide fantastic amenity to the Toowong community."
McKinnon says the sale of the site to IJ Capital paves the way for RW Capital to deliver a return to its investors after months of uncertainty.
The sale to IJ Capital has led to a cancellation of contracts for existing purchasers of The Aviary apartments. However, Lai says his company will be engaging with these buyers once it firms up plans for the new development.
“When we finalise the designs, we will be talking to these buyers to see if they are happy to stay on,” Lai says.
Toowong Central will deliver four levels of retail and commercial space including a cinema, gym medical centre and retail centre incorporating a high-end restaurant precinct. The developer also plans to include a new college or education facility.
Lai says Harris Farms, one of the high-profile tenants that originally signed up for The Aviary, is ‘very happy to stay on’ with the revised development.
While IJ Capital says Toowong Central will comprise a total investment of $1 billion, the end value of the development could be close to $2 billion.
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