Sydney's Newington Olympic village 12 years after the closing ceremony

Alistair WalshAugust 8, 20120 min read

With the 2012 Olympic descending on London, Property Observer looks back on what happens after the athletes and crowds left town after the 2000 Sydney closing ceremony.

For the 2000 Olympic Games, Sydney built one of the biggest athlete villages ever constructed at the time.

In 1997, the Sydney Olympic Park Authority signed a $590 million contract with the Mirvac Lend Lease Village Consortium comprising of Mirvac, Lend Lease, Civil & Civic, ANZ and Westpac. The village was part of $3 billion of construction and capital works for the games.

The contract was to plan, design, finance and construct the Olympic village, which would provide housing for 15,300 competitors and team officials as well as accommodation for 7,500 competitors and officials for the Paralympic Games.

The consortium would also carry out the reinstatement work on the Olympic village after the Paralympics; market and sell the reconfigured Olympic village properties; and share the net proceeds between the consortium and government.

As well as the multiple sporting venues, other projects included the Olympic Park railway station and rail loop, development at the former Lidcombe Hospital site for 6,000 media representatives and a 318-room Ibis/Novotel hotel.

The athlete village was built in Newington, two kilometres east of the Homebush Bay sporting complex. The sporting complex is now the suburb called Sydney Olympic Park.

The consortium built nearly 900 townhouses and 700 apartments over 90 hectares, as well as nearly 300 modular homes.

Environmental sustainability was heavily pushed by the Olympic committee, and every home came with solar panels and water recycling facilities, features that still exist. When it was built, the suburb was the largest solar-powered suburb in the world.

Waste water is treated and redirected to the neighbouring wetland which was restored as part of the project.

After the Paralympic Games Newington was sold into private ownership and its transformation into a residential suburb began.

More houses were built and according to the 2011 census, there are now 2,074 dwellings housing 5,320 people. The census found 6% of the homes are currently unoccupied. There are 940 houses and 815 units in the suburb. Three- and two-bedroom homes dominate the mix.  Despite a strong push by the Olympic organisers to discourage car ownership in the area, just 3% of homes are without a car while 55% of homes have two or more cars.

According to RP Data the current median house price in the suburb is $770,000 up 2% over the last year and 20.7% over the last five years. Units have a median price of $487,000, down 3.6% over the year but up 19.2% over the last five years. The annual rise in median price over the last 10 years is 4.8%.

One recent sale in the area was 20 Lewis Way, a three-bedroom, three-bathroom house. The Olympic Co-Ordination Authority sold the property for $430,000 in 2001 and it most recently traded for $760,000 in May. In December 2011 the home was advertised for rent at $650 per week.

29 Evans Street (pictured below) recently sold for $732,000 from Ajay Valanju at Location Property Group. It originally traded for $503,000 in 2002.

A two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit, 7/3 Heidelberg Avenue originally traded for $345,00 in 2001 sold for $513,000 in May 2012.

Unit 23 at 19 Pearce Avenue, a two-bedroom unit, recently sold for $430,00 after originally selling for $350,000 in 2001.

Mirvac’s NSW development director for master-planned communities says the suburb turned out better than they ever imagined.

“The amazing thing is that it's one of the few Olympic Games villages in the world that's been successful post-Olympics,” he told Fairfax.

''The project involved risk, but I think the quality of the build, the town planning, the parks and green space, and the mix of homes all contributed to its success.”

Local agent Chuck Ow Lee of Newington Village Real Estate told Fairfax the area is in strong demand.

''Homes here are very tightly held,'' he says. ''People are constantly surprised and impressed by the infrastructure and facilities and being surrounded by parks, and prices are cheaper than nearby.”

One home up for sale is 18 Beaurepaire Avenue, which is being sold by Norman So and Andrew Zhang from Strathfield Partners for $760,000.



Mirvac Design worked with a number of architectural practices to produce a variety of dwelling types with work from Eeles Trelease, Vote Associates, Tanner and Associates, Gordon and Valich, Virginia Kerridge Architects, Grose Bradley Associates, Order Architects, Tonkin Zulhaika, PTW, and Hassell.

Meanwhile, in the neighbouring Sydney Olympic Park, within the remaining sporting hub, the newest residential development, called Australia Towers, is being built by Ecove. It will bring more than 800 apartments to the area. The first tower in the three-tower development (pictured below) is currently home to more 600 residents.

The are is expected to experience boom growth with 1.4 million square metres of new construction planned and it is expected by 2030 some 14,000 people will live in the area. The area is currently made up of parkland, sporting facilities, offices, restuarants and retail precincts.

The success of Sydney’s Olympic athlete village comes in stark contrast to cities like Vancouver.

In 2011, a year after the winter Games, fewer than half of the 737 condos had been sold, almost of those as preconstruction sales in 2007. Vancouver’s taxpayers owed about CAN$750 million for the project, which was never intended to be a public sector development. To sell the apartments, the city then slashed prices by 30%.

Other failures include the 2004 Athens Olympic athlete village, which was the largest single property development at the time. Hundreds of thousands of Greek families entered a lottery for the chance to buy in the complex but by 2011, just half of the apartments were filled. Commercial developments in the area shut down, schools were turning away students and the buildings now have damp and sewage problems. Many Athenians saw the Games as a major contributor to Greece’s current financial woes; some estimates say the Games cost Greece €27 billion, five times the €5.5 billion budget.

Lend Lease has developed the 3,300-apartment complex for the 2012 London Olympic Games. After the games the site is due to converted into a neighbourhood with 2,818 homes, including 1,000 family homes with three or four bedrooms. The site was sold to  Qatari ruling family's property company, Qatari Diar, for £557 million.

The committee had already sold 1,379 of the homes in the 11 blocks to Triathlon Homes for £268 million in 2009. Those are due to be converted into affordable homes.

Alistair Walsh

Deutsche Welle online reporter
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