Occasio acquires $500m Mernda Town Centre development from Woolworths

Occasio acquires $500m Mernda Town Centre development from Woolworths

(L-R): Nicholas Dorman of Dorman Capital, Ray Zelouf of  Occasio, Chris Eddy - Whittlesea Council administrator, Danielle Green - MP, Craig Jensz of  Lion Advisory, Don Foulds of Woolworths.

Ray Zelouf's Occasio Projects has today announced the acquisition of the $500 million mixed-use Mernda Town Centre in Melbourne's north from Woolworths Group (ASX: WOW).

Construction has now commenced on Stage One of the shopping centre component of the project which is expected to cost $110 million and create approximately 300 construction jobs, with an opening in sight for mid-2022.

Woolworths will remain as the key anchor tenant to deliver a full-line supermarket, along with 35 speciality retail shops.

Melbourne-based Occasio Projects, having funded more than 20 projects across Eastern Australia since 2016 with an end value of more than $1.4 billion, will offer its investors the opportunity to participate in the Mernda Town Centre through a series of funds in the coming months.

The project has received financial backing from the three shareholders of Occasio Projects who have initially acquired the site via Mernda Retail Developments Pty Ltd: Occasio's founder and managing director Ray Zelouf; Dorman Capital, the family office of the Regis Healthcare (ASX: REG) co-founder Bryan Dorman; and Jensz Investment Company, owned by Lion Advisory founder Craig Jensz.

The broader Mernda Town Centre project will be delivered in multiple stages, spanning 27 hectares with retail, commercial, entertainment and residential offerings.

"Occasio provides both debt and equity solutions across its portfolio and we are progressively playing a more active role as development partner across a growing number of these investments," says Zelouf.

"Occasio investors will have the opportunity to participate in a high-quality asset in Melbourne's northern growth corridor, which will benefit from sustained population growth and rapid development."

Dorman Capital CEO Nick Dorman says his group is pleased to support Occasio with the acquisition of the Mernda Town Centre.

"The commencement of construction of the Mernda Town Centre is a major milestone and demonstrates our confidence in the future of the Whittlesea region," he says.

"We look forward to making a long-term contribution to the terrific lifestyle opportunities that will be offered to the broader Mernda community."

Whittlesea Council is a foundation stakeholder in the Mernda Town Centre, with future plans for a learning and well-being offering in addition to restoring the historic Mayfield Farm.

Woolworths state development manager Don Foulds says his company is delighted to celebrate this major step forward in the revitalisation of the town centre.

"We're confident the Mernda Town Centre development will deliver local residents a truly integrated, thriving and convenient community and shopping destination. We look forward to welcoming customers into our store in 2022," Foulds says.

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