Bondi’s new look is making waves, Susan Wellings, The Age, 28 Feb 2013
Film producer and actor Rebel Penfold-Russell bought her first three-bedroom apartment at Bondi Beach when she was studying at NIDA in the 1970s for $52,000. Today, she’s selling six for more than $5.5 million each.
Prices have been rising steadily at Sydney’s iconic beach for years but today they’ve hit dizzying highs.
At the coming Pacific development – the $440 million-plus transformation of the old Swiss Grand Hotel – a super-penthouse now being designed from the amalgamation of two oversized apartments is expected to be sold off the plan for about $25 million.
Further south on Campbell Parade, James Packer’s beachfront house – with its four bedrooms, study, six bathrooms and garaging for eight cars – is quietly on sale for about $22 million, while a price is yet to be set for the penthouse atop a new building nearby, Boheme, which is nearing completion.
Meanwhile, Penfold-Russell’s latest development, Coast, on the Ben Buckler headland, has just been finished, with its six three-bedroom-plus apartments now on the market for a price that’s risen more than a hundredfold from what she paid for her first.
”Bondi’s buildings all used to be salt-encrusted, rundown old buildings with broken wiring and concrete cancer, with very few good restaurants around,” Penfold-Russell says. ”But it’s smartening up, not in a pompous exclusive way, but it now has a lot more good property, great retail and fabulous restaurants.”
Much of the credit for that has to be laid at the doorway of the Pacific, the development of 95 apartments, a hotel of 69 apartments and a two-level retail and restaurant complex by Allen Linz and Eduard Litver’s Rebel Property Group, says the chairman of CBRE Residential, Justin Brown.
”The first weekend, we launched 76 apartments, and 74 sold immediately,” he says. ”Then we sold nine of the lighthouses for up to $10.5 million, which equates to $45,000 a square metre.
”I think it was Sydney’s most successful project last year in terms of sales and prices achieved, which has given that area a high level of confidence. People now believe in it. Pacific has created a new environment.”
McGrath agent Andrew Livingston, who’s selling Packer’s pad, agrees. ”It started a few years ago with Cadigal, on the site of the old Diggers’ club, selling for $44,000 a square metre, but now with Pacific, it’s surprising how many people have come out and are deciding to live in the area. It has kicked it on,” Livingston says.
It helps that Bondi has so much going for it.
Fabrizio Perilli, the executive general manager (development and construction) at Toga Group, which is building Boheme, says: ”Bondi Beach is a national icon, people come from around the world to see it and it just had to lift the bar a little bit from where it was. Now it’s reaching national and international standards as far as development goes.”
Architect Nick Tobias is involved in several new projects at the beach, including houses on the sites of old apartment blocks, and amalgamating units to create larger and more luxurious homes.
”I think the new development is a reflection of the realisation of how good Bondi is,” he says.
What’s happening in Bondi
”People have realised how extraordinary Bondi’s geography is, and being able to live there so close to where you work, too,” Nick Tobias says. ”There’s an organic evolution that’s happening there now.”
”Property is becoming a lot more valuable, and it is a worry how unaffordable it is,” says Malcolm Turnbull, who’s delighting in the $5.6 million upgrade of the North Bondi Surf Club. ”I’d love to see light rail there now.”
”There’s a rejuvenation of Bondi going on,” says Pacific developer Eduard Litver. ”People from the eastern suburbs used to come to visit and train here, but now they’re saying they’d like to live here, too.”
”Bondi is so vibrant and vital, it’s exuberant with a youthful feel, it’s magnificent,” says Rebel Penfold-Russell. ”There’s everything you want to eat there as well as drink, and there’s great retail in lovely little enclaves.”
‘The whole area is really changing. You can feel in it.’
The moment Alex Sorokin saw Pacific Bondi Beach advertised, he fell in love with it.
”I thought: What a great position, right on the beach!” he says. ”When I started reading about it, and seeing it had three international designers involved, I knew it was going to be a special development.”
His daughter, an international real estate expert based in London, even flew over to inspect the plans and the site, and gave her dad her blessing.
”She was really impressed,” he says. ”She also loved the large living areas, the huge outdoor balconies and the provision of a concierge and the lifestyle element. She’s selling the most prime real estate in England, so she has a very good eye.”
Sorokin, 60, a property investor now living in Avalon, plans to move into the two-bedroom apartment with his wife, Tania, 57, and the youngest of their four children, Alex jnr, 13, as soon as they’re able.
He’s always loved Bondi Beach and even though he spends much of his time on the northern beaches and at Manly, he’s looking forward to being in the middle of all the restaurants and cafes of the eastern suburbs.
”The whole area there is really changing,” he says. ”You can feel it. It’s getting much cleaner and smarter.”
Two-bedroom apartments at the Pacific started at $1.1 million. There are still two-beds-plus-study from $2.7 million.