SYDNEY’S Strathfield Golf Club has provided the best good news story to hit the Australian golf industry in decades by securing more than $50 million in a residential land bonanza which will leave its golf course untouched.
Strathfield has sold 2.2ha of redundant land, on which its dated clubhouse, carpark and a practice range is located, to Brisbane residential developer Metro Property Development and financiers The Alceon Group.
The sale, sealed in late April by Colliers International Australia, made big news in the national financial press, given the hot Sydney real estate market and the site’s location about 15km west of the city’s CBD and 2km from the Homebush Olympic Games stadium.
The result is a huge bonus for Strathfield Golf Club, whose Board and Neil Hardy, the General Manager, had prepared diligently for this venture in the past few years.
“When we applied for rezoning of this land in 2012 we included a planning proposal which involved about 100 apartments and the Strathfield Council approved the subdivision on that basis,” Hardy says.
“We are delighted with the outcome because six months ago when we sought and gained enthusiastic approval from our members to press ahead with selling the land, we were given a valuation of about $34 million…so to receive what we have from Metro Property Development is a great result,” Hardy says.
“With a successful sale behind us, what we are focussing on now is a new clubhouse and the new course layout. A Master Plan is almost agreed upon and is expected to soon be shown to club members.”
Land for the clubhouse and even a new practice area has been set aside for some time in the club’s rework of the current layout by Sydney’s Jim Wilcher’s Golf By Design group, which has compiled an impressive scorecard at quality Sydney golf clubs in recent years, revitalising Roseville, North Rocks, North Turramurra, Elanora and now Strathfield layouts.
“We have about two years to move from the old clubhouse, but already we have a site set aside for the new building and plans are advanced,” says Hardy, who has about 20 years’ experience as a golf club manager, serving at Blackheath and Oatlands before joining Strathfield about seven years ago.
“We now are awaiting tenders from architects and seeking out other consultants because we have about eight months to get a Development Approval from the council for the new building.”
Strathfield is justifiably excited about having their layout revitalised and one of the major benefits will be to get a first and 10th holes two-tee start configuration near the clubhouse
One of the features of the redesign will be making more of the Cooks River which flows through the course.
“We are looking to drastically improve the Cooks River itself and make it a feature of the course with some of the holes crossing it,” Hardy says.
In regards to having a new clubhouse, specifically designed for modern-day use in regards to weddings and other functions, Hardy sees that as a valuable and necessary source of income.
“Golf clubs can’t survive these days on member subscriptions alone,” he says.
“Strathfield’s new clubhouse will be purpose-built with many exciting quality features providing more opportunities.
“I inspected the new Huntingdale clubhouse in Melbourne recently and it is fabulous. It boasts so much useful technology which could not be added on to an existing golf clubhouse.
“The proposed development of apartments and townhouses has proved popular with Strathfield club members with many already inquiring as to when they will be available to buy off the plan.
“It is a winning situation for us and I think it is one of the best stories to hit the golf industry in a long, long time against so many bad news items at times.
The developers are happy with the Strathfield site. Metro will seek a permit to build 310 apartments and townhouses with north-facing views over the golf course.
Metro chief executive Luke Hartman told The Australian Financial Review newspaper that he hoped to start marketing the first stage by the end of the year.
“It’s our first apartment site in Sydney and we expect a strong owner-occupiers interest, as well as interest from the investment market,” he said.
Colliers National Development Sites Residential Director Guillaume Volz is enthusiastic about the possibility of golf clubs looking at residential developments.
“The Strathfield sale was well contested by offshore developers and local buyers, with the result demonstrating the confidence in the Sydney residential development market, that has shown continued strength into 2015,” Volz said.