The Australian corner which has become a foreigner enclave

By Candace Sutton

In China, the name Barangaroo has become a byword for Australia's most desirable location. Photo / Getty
In China, the name Barangaroo has become a byword for Australia's most desirable location. Photo / Getty

It's a small corner of Australia which is rapidly becoming a foreigners-only enclave that ordinary Australians will never be able to afford.

This exclusive precinct is already up to 80 per cent foreign owned and mostly by Chinese investors.

Back in Shanghai and Beijing, the name Barangaroo has become a byword for Australia's most desirable location and the hot ticket for high end property ownership.

Sitting on the jewel of Sydney Harbour, the status pocket of postcode 2000 has become a huge hit with Chinese buyers.

Rich Chinese are snapping up property for its views, architecture, sumptuous finishes and prestigious location right next to where James Packer's $2 billion casino is to go up.

And the percentage of Chinese ownership is likely to increase with the construction of the next set of luxury towers and with Packer luring high rollers - known as "whales" - to spend their millions is his gaming rooms.

Agents and auctioneers are selling apartments along the exclusive strip of Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo for almost double the price for which they were bought off the plan three years ago.

"For Chinese buyers, part of the appeal is the status of living in Barangaroo," said Raine & Horne Real Estate City Living's Matt Mifsud.

"It's attracting buyers from China and other countries not only because of its quality but the precinct it's in," Mr Mifsud said.

"But there's very little left to sell."

Two apartments Mr Mifsud has for sale in the relatively low rise, seven storey Alexander and Anandara towers have risen in price since 2013 from $1.875m to $3.15m for a two bedroom, and from $3.995 to $6m for a three bedroom penthouse apartment.

Both apartments are directly over the water, which he said appealed to buyers rather than being high up in a tower.

Mifsud's colleague, Raine & Horne's head of auctions James Pratt, said that Barangaroo's exemplary international reputation had negated any controversy about Packer's casino.

The Packer casino at Barangaroo has been subject to a legal challenge, and 18 of his staff have been arrested in China for allegedly targeting "whales".

"All the auctions I have been involved in were cancelled because the property sold before the auction date and interest was too strong," Pratt said.

"My feedback from Chinese buyers is if the property is in Barangaroo, they don't even need to visit Australia to see it, they will just buy it because of the quality.

"No expense has been spared and it's newness with a lot of style.

"The infrastructure is going up around it, then there's the retail space, the shopping complex, the walk around the Harbour foreshore, the free flowing layout, the luxury of space and the fact it is in the heart if the CBD with this much class."

Mifsud said the development of two further residential and commercial towers plus the casino was "really creating a buzz" in the precinct.

"Barangaroo is becoming a cultural hub and everything is happening ... a David Jones, a Fitness First, the parklands, Wynyard Walk.

"They will put in a train station, they are building four ferry wharves, there's the proximity to the casino and it's walking distance to the city."

Barangaroo still has spaces for ordinary folk, the headlands with its engineered sandstone foreshore, the shopping precinct and public parks.

The $2b six-star hotel and casino is not due to open at Barangaroo until 2021, with all the fanfare of Packer's $4.5m Macau casino launch last October.

The Australian mogul paid actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro and director Martin Scorsese $17m each to launch the Studio City resort on Macau's Cotai strip.

But there are fears that with the advent of high roller junketeers arriving on chartered VIP jets to spend seven figure credit lines at Barangaroo's gaming tables, some parts of the public amenity surrounding the towers may shrink.

"High rollers don't want to be photographed or have their movements monitored by the media," a gaming and crime expert, who asked not to be named, told news.com.au.

"Barangaroo could become an exclusive precinct largely closed off for ordinary people."

- news.com.au

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