Click here to read the original article by Simon Johanson for the Sydney Morning Herald, 22 April 2017.
MAB, along with joint venture partner Gibson Property Corporation, snapped up 131 hectares of vacant farmland at 225-286 Donnybrook Road from vendor AMP Capital in the city’s fast-growing northern corridor.
The site, between Donnybrook and Mickleham roads and the Hume Highway, lies opposite MAB and Gibson’s Merrifield development, a project that now has scope to grow to more than 8000 homes, 300 hectares of employment-focused industrial development and a 140-hectare civic centre.
Once complete it will be the largest master-planned new community in Melbourne, home to 25,000 people.
MAB chief operating officer David Hall said the Donnybrook Road land was zoned for employment uses but an amendment to the planning scheme may allow MAB to carve out 900 residential lots and integrate them alongside 60 hectares of industrial land.
Once developed, the land will be bisected by a new road called Aitken Boulevard, with a significant portion backing onto what in the future will be the Woodlands Reserve.
Biggin & Scott Land’s Frank Nagle and Andrew Egan, who handled the transaction, declined to comment.
Melbourne’s newest suburbs around Mickleham have become one of the city’s most active land markets as multiple local developers vie to accumulating sizeable holdings and cash in on booming lots sales, which reached a record 22,000 across Melbourne last year.
One month ago Stockland put its foot on a sizeable 77-hectare parcel nearby in 1780 Mickleham Road, paying $75 million.
Stockland will acquire the land from a private vendor with payment made progressively over the next 5½ years.
The land also fronts Mount Ridley Road and is adjacent to the existing Mickleham Primary School. It is expected to yield about 950 residential lots.
At the time, Stockland CEO Mark Steinert said the group was increasing its strategic investment in Victoria because of its affordability advantage to buyers.
Midway through last year, Perth-based BRW rich lister Nigel Satterley paid $101 million for a 214-hectare parcel in the same area.
That purchase was closely followed by another two months later when Mr Satterley swooped on another 68 hectares for $34 million.
Other well-known developers already have established estates in the area.
Villawood Properties has the Waratah and Trillium developments, Ron Walker-backed Evolve is building The Woods estate and Japanese industrial conglomerate Sumitomo has the Annadale project.
Mr Hall said the first stage of the Merrifield Business Park was scheduled to open midway through this year.
Listed paint maker Dulux committed in March 2015 to build a $165 million water-based paint manufacturing plant on a 17-hectare anchor site in the new park.
“The acquisition will help us respond to the increasing level of inquiry we are receiving from small and large businesses looking at Merrifield and Melbourne’s north to grow their business,” he said.
“Our vision for Merrifield has always been to create a new city for Melbourne’s north and to provide a new way of living in Melbourne’s growth areas, by delivering a strong local economy and diverse employment precincts in close proximity to where people live.”
The sale follows a recent push by Chinese developers to diversify away from inner city-based apartment developments into land projects.
Fairfax Media recently reported Chinese-backed Alvina Developments spent $11 million acquiring a Cranbourne site in the city’s south-east at 1405 Ballarto Road.
Other sites in Ballarto Road at 1345 and 1365 were snapped up by Shanghai-based Artemis Hotel Group, while another local player Woldene with the support of Chinese-based Blueways group took control of 1425 Ballarto Road in a $40 million deal.