I like many others was surprised and impressed when Hengyi Australia announced recently that it had reached sales of 75% for its Light House project on Elizabeth Street. I had also incorrectly made the assumption that the majority of sales to date were to offshore investors, and that Hengyi Australia was merely another of the throng of Asian property developers keen to absorb robust demand for Melbourne apartments.
Following a recent chat with Hengyi's Head of Marketing & Business Development, Stephen Speer, an new impression was born of a Chinese-backed, yet distinctly Melbourne-based developer intent on achieving great things within the local context.
Hengyi's initial Bruce Henderson-designed project at 199 William Street is well into construction as seen above, with remaining apartments on offer for sale exclusively within the local market. The rebirthed office complex which will include a Wyndham Hotel upon completion is scheduled to open its doors within months, and Urban Melbourne may just be first through the door to have a look around.
Light House is the flagship project for Hengyi Australia. The size, eye-catching design and methodology behind Light House at 450 Elizabeth Street have ensured the projects success and ingratiated Hengyi to many locally.
Once the initial partnership was forged with co-developer Sixth Grange, the numbers for Light House were adjusted resulting in a taller proposal which gained approval from Planning Minister Matthew Guy. Thereafter a local retail sales campaign was launched in unison with five investor roadshows through Southeast Asia with Malaysia proving to be the highest yielding stop.
Overall sales for the 607 apartments within Light House now stand beyond 80%, and of those roughly 60% have been to Australian buyers. Sales have been strong over all available layouts with a proportionately healthy percentage of apartments carrying three bedrooms, a result of Hengyi adjusting to local market desires.
Rather than utilising parent company Shandong HYI's resources, local institutions have financed the construction of Light House with demolition slated to begin during September. Piling and associated works will ensue over some months, resulting in the first signs of the tower's skyward movement during 2015. Construction is due for completion early 2017.
Asked what is next on the back of Light House's success, Stephen Speer suggests Australia is Hengyi's oyster. Given the right project specific dynamics or joint-venture partner, the firm would develop anywhere based upon the opportunity presented. Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Darwin were nominated as potential cities, depending upon the opportunities that arise.
Hengyi Australia have hit the ground running, one can only wonder what the firm has in store next?