LAKE Macquarie is beingtransformedat a rate not seen for generations, with a construction frenzy spilling overfromNewcastle and pushingWarners Bay and Charlestown skywards.
The Lake Macquarie councilarea, which includes a swath of greater Newcastle suburbs and townships such as Morisset, Cooranbong and Swansea, had about 2,700 development applications worth $607 million approved in the last financial year.
That is 550 more than the previous year, andan increase of 23.5 per cent.
About $250 millionworth of construction is underway and, while noton the scale of Newcastle’s $900 million transformation, the Lakefigureis mainly private investment unswollen by major public workslike the Newcastle light rail.
There is alsomore than $300million worth ofdevelopmentin the pipeline. Among the projects attracting buyers’ interest are the $80 million Water’s Edge apartments proposed for the Esplanade at Warners Bay.
If approved, Water’s Edge will take the site of a former BP service station andfeature 112one, two and three-bedroom apartments across two buildings.
It will sit opposite the near-complete Shearwater building,also comprising 112 apartments, twobasements, eight specialty shops and anAldi supermarket.
In Charlestownthe proposedHighpoint apartments– held up at the councilbut expected to be about15 storeys – are being advertised from $385,000to $750,000.
Artist’s rendering of the proposed Highpoint Charlestown.
Chris Chapman, the director of Colliers Newcastle, said a thriving Lake is a side-effect of Newcastle’s construction boom.
“Lake Macquarie’s fortunes are a mirror to Newcastle’s. It has really solid fundamentals; government expenditure, mining is doing OKandconstruction is off the charts in the Newcastle CBD,” Mr Chapman said.
“Charlestown now has its own CBD and you’re seeing more clustered around the lake. Warners Bay is certainly benefiting from the growth.”
Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser praised her council’s recent track record of assessing moredevelopment applications thanany other NSW council outside of Sydney, with a median determination time of 38 days and 54 days for major developments.
“Diversity of choicein residential options is one of the city’s strengths, with modern apartment-style living increasing around the town centres and plenty of well-located greenfield space still available for those who prefer to build or buy a traditional home on a suburban block,”Cr Fraser said.
“Lake Macquarie provides an enviable lifestyle for people of all ages and affordable housing options, with a median home price of about $430,000.”
Health, aged care part of Lake’s boom
NOT everything newin Lake Macquarie comes ina multi-storeybuilding.
The council approved 204 medium-density housing applications in the decadeto 2016.
In Charlestown, the median price for a housein the past year has been $571,000, a jump of 8.3 per cent.
Median house prices in Warners Bay are up 5.4 per cent to $590,000, while unitsfellfour per cent to$450,000.
Last year generated 741 subdivision lots, the council says,part of an upward trend.
The Lake has the “capacity for much more greenfield development”,with11,000 new greenfield dwellings projectedand 2,000 seniors housing units.
A $22 million residential care facility was approved forCardiff in May, and a $22 million seniors housing development at Mount Hutton is already built.
The growth in residential care mirrors theexpansions ofLake Macquarie Private and Warners Bay Private hospitals, andGateshead and Charlestown as a health precinct.
House and unit sales in Belmont are steady at $495,000 and $408,000 respectively, but the neighbouringsouthern coastallake suburbs of Nords Wharf and Catherine Hill Bay have emerged as powerhouses.
Catherine Hill Bay’s 46.9 per cent medianincrease in a year, turbo-charged by the 550-lot Beaches development,puts it top of the Lake and fourthin NSW.
Planning, land releases and construction continue at the 2,000-home Cameron Grove Estate in Cameron Park, the 1,500-home Northlakes Estate, andthe 2,500-homeWatagan Park in North Cooranbong.
‘It’s not the village I know’
Lake Macquarie’s quiet boom PREPARING TO LET GO: Daniyella Spudic opened the King Street Depot cafe with her late partner Johan Astrup. Picture: Simone De Peak
‘THE BUILDINGS ARE WAY TOO BIG FOR THIS AREA’: Daniyella Spudic in front of the Shearwater construction site. Picture: Simone De Peak
The Shearwater apartments construction site. Picture: Simone De Peak
facebookSHAREtwitterTWEETemailwhatsappcommentCommentsAT lunchtime on a weekdayin Warners Baythe red stools of King Street Depot,Daniyella Spudic’s weatherboard cafe a street back from Lake Macquarie, seathi-vis-wearing builders from the construction site next door.
The cafe is overlooked by the growing 112-apartment Shearwater building and, pending Lake Macquarie council approval, will soon occupy a valley walled on the lake side by the $80 million Water’s Edge building.
“They just hang out the front,” Ms Spudic said, jokingly.
“They like meat pies and energy drinks, so I think it’s been more of a win for the servo. Wedid put on a double bacon and egg roll, which I hate. We already had a big tradie base.”
Ms Spudic and her late partnerJohan Astrupleased the cafe seven years ago expecting it would be demolished one day as the land around it was developed.
She will close in December with a party for regular customers and go travelling abroad, knowing the Lake is changing under the weight of $600 million worthof development in a year.
“In my opinion the buildings are way too big for this area. It’s not the little lakeside village I know.”
Depending who you ask, last year’s 23 per cent jump in development approvals will either addto the Lake’svillage appeal, kill it, or something in between.
As the mixed-use Water’s Edge by Warners Bay developerYPIYahavProperty Investmentsis assessed by the council, the project’s Canberra-based builder, Bloc, says it will employ about 1,200 new workers.
Mark Kentwell of PRDnationwide Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, who is marketing the 112-apartment building, has said he expectsthe project willbecome the “jewel in the crown” of Warners Bay.
Another majorbuilding before the council, GWH Build’s Highpoint Charlestown, promises views of the lake from the heart of the area’s commercial centre.
“With only one recent apartment building being developed in Charlestown we see an opportunity to develop and build a boutique high-rise development,” aGWH Build spokesman told theNewcastle Herald.
Chris Chapman of Colliers Newcastle, which will market Highpoint, said he expected Charlestown to continue to grow and for apartments inWarners Bay to soon start selling for $1 million.
While median sales have spiked in the western Lake suburbs of Booragul, Carey Bay and Bolton Point, Mr Chapman said the markets in Toronto and Swansea are“not quite as advanced as Warners Bay”.
“But Swansea could be a dark horse,” he said.
“Around the Lake generally, we’re not seeing anything in our modelling that indicates any storm clouds on the horizon.”