Australian Unity Buys More Sites, Retirement Villages Planned

The deals pave the way for the acquisitive developer to build another 550 retirement village units, and bolsters the number of units managed by the fund by around 20 per cent, to more than 2500 – spread between New South Wales and Victoria.

The biggest recently acquired site is in Mornington, about 67 kilometres south of the CBD and between the exclusive residential retreats of Mount Eliza and Mount Martha.

At the corner of Bungower and Racecourse Roads, and walking distance to the Peninsula Lifestyle Shopping Centre, the 25 hectare site – which was until recently 20 subdivided farming blocks – will yield up to 350 units for Australian Unity, and is believed to have cost about $37 million.

A wellness centre and high care facility will also be built on part of the amalgamated site, sources say.

A second 10-hectare site in Cranbourne, on the South Gippsland Highway about 50 kilometres south-east of the CBD will make way for between 200 and 300 retirement village units, subject to council approval. This pile of land is speculated to have cost Australian Unity about $11 million.

The off-market deals were negotiated by Kelemen Commercial acquisition and sales executive Andrew Egan, who declined to comment when contacted by Capital Gain.

Australian Unity Retirement Living group executive Derek McMillan however confirmed the purchases. He said the acquisitions were part of a strategic push to build and manage more retirement villages in Victoria where demographic conditions are favourable.

Including the Mornington and Cranbourne developments, Australian Unity will manage six retirement villages in Victoria, and 11 in New South Wales, including a new luxury development it is building in Sydney’s ultra ritzy beach side suburb of Bondi.

Mr McMillan says consumer sentiment has changed to retirement village units, with some facilities today including tennis courts, pools and 24-hour concierge.

Last year, rival Becton boosted its own development pipeline in Victoria, picking up amongst other sites, the former Beaumaris Hotel on Beach Road and the former Tudor Court reception centre in Kooyong Road Caulfield. It too owns an aged care facility in Mornington.

Australian Unity Investments, a separate division of the multi-divisional company, also announced this week it spent $35 million to buy the Manningham Medical Centre in Lower Templestowe.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of realestatesource.com.au.

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