Waldorf Astoria

Australia’s first Waldorf Astoria

PHOTO: Lendlease and Mitsubishi Estate Asia have formed a joint venture to acquire the One Circular Quay development in Sydney for about $800 million, with an additional $50 million payment subject to certain project outcomes.

An eyesore construction site in Sydney’s famous harbour gateway that went up in flames four years ago and has sat empty since will be turned into an upmarket apartment tower and the country’s first Waldorf Astoria hotel in a $3 billion venture.

Development giant Lendlease and joint venture partner Mitsubishi Estate Asia have resolved the future of Circular Quay’s last development puzzle, striking an $800 million deal to buy a 4000 square metre block at 1 Alfred Street, empty since 2017.

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The hoarded-up crater in the middle of the waterfront area was once owned by Huang Xiangmo, a suspected Chinese Communist Party influence agent who made political donations to the NSW Labor and Country Labor Party, and who has since left the country.

In 2018, a fire broke out on the site’s scaffolding, billowing smoke across the city and sparking an emergency.

Xiangmo’s company Yuhu passed control of the vacant block to another Chinese entity, AWH Investment Group, which has now sold its stake to the Lendlease joint venture. Another Chinese-based developer, Wanda group, had purchased the beleaguered property in 2014 and then spent hundreds of thousands of dollars demolishing an iconic 1960s office tower that occupied the site.

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The building eyesore hasn’t stopped Circular Quay’s rapid development. The area is now home to three new skyscraper office towers, including the recently opened $2 billion Quay Quarter Tower at its eastern end and the under-construction Salesforce tower.

As part of its revamp – it’s a particularly important gateway for Sydney – the NSW government allocated $216 million in the June budget to upgrade surrounding public space, ferry terminals and the Cahill Expressway.

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Lendlease Australia’s managing director of development Tom Mackellar said One Circular Quay will elevate “Sydney’s real estate market on the global stage” and become one of the world’s most desired addresses to live and stay.

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