Perfect storm hit Evolve Development with Southbank apartment project

Perfect storm hit Evolve Development with Southbank apartment project
Perfect storm hit Evolve Development with Southbank apartment project

Ashley Williams, chief executive of the Melbourne-based Evolve Development, has admitted it took his company 14 months to reach an 80% presales on its Southbank offering.

Prices began at $420,000 after marketing kicked off through Colliers in June 2016.

Prices now start at $405,000.

Demolition on the site only started late last year with construction set to commence soon on the 20-level Botanic Melbourne residential tower in Southbank.

"In a normal market that would have been eight or nine months ago," Williams told The Australian Financial Review.

"It's like a perfect storm of regulation and changes.

"What we've experienced over the last 12 months has been a whole series of government interventions that have basically scared away the investor buyer in the market, particularly in apartment developments and more medium-density-style developments."

It's a reference to the Andrews Government removing stamp duty savings for investors, and foreign taxes by both state and federal governments, along with the Turnbull Government's decision to restrict sales to a 50% FIRB cap.

It was 2013 when Williams and the late establishment powerbroker Ron Walker established what was once billed as "Melbourne’s fastest-growing property developer with the Midas touch".

Walker was a co-founder of legendary property developer Hudson Conway – builder and founding operator of Melbourne’s Crown casino – with Lloyd Williams (no relation to Ashley) and Roderick Carnegie in 1977.

Walker once admitted that getting back into property after selling out of Hudson Conway was not on his to-do list.

“I thought that was the end of my property development days after all those years," he said in 2012.

Williams, a former civil engineer, got his grounding in the apartments market as a development manager with Michael and Andrew Buxton’s MAB Corporation.

Williams and Walker, dubbed the property sector’s unlikely billion-dollar duo, came to be in partnership back in 2003 via Hugh Morgan, who is Williams’s father-in-law.

It was Evolve that helped Walker being a staple of the Rich List.

The first apartment projects, were boutique developments in North Melbourne, Prahran and Carlton between 2005 and 2008, sold off the plans within months of becoming available.

“We always sell off the plan; that’s the risk model of the projects we get into," Williams said in 2014.

“It’s a good discipline for us to make sure we get the right product and the right price points. We take a very robust approach to marketing projects so we can get to settlement as soon as possible." 

Designed by SJB Interiors, Botanic Melbourne is situated on Coventry Street some 150m from St Kilda Road and 300m from the Shrine of Remembrance.

Residential Development South Yarra

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