Michael Yates quits South Yarra apartment site after failing to secure finance

Jonathan ChancellorOctober 29, 20170 min read

The longtime Melbourne apartment developer Michael Yates is seeking to sell his 55 Claremont Street project site after only getting buyers for 20 of the 37 apartments in the planned development.

The boutique project failed to get traction with buyers, he admitted to Fairfax Media.

"Sales were slow," Mr Yates candidly said. "We didn't reach the required numbers for finance. Building costs have also blown out."

It is reportedly the last site he owns, so he will be stepping out of the apartment industry.
His desperate sale pitch came with an offer of a shared electric BMW i3 for residents of the 37 apartments, but it wasn't enough to tempt buyers. 
The unsuccessful marketing campaign came from Grenade. It was marketed as the last of its kind to offer panoramic, never-to-be built out views of the Yarra River and Melbourne CBD.

Ausin, the company that promotes Australian property to the Chinese foreigners, was engaged to find an overseas demand, that also failed to emerge.

The 50 year veteran, now 73, says he's not leaving development, but he has sub-leased his office.

He hopes to "take it easy for a year or so".
The Claremont Street site has joined with a neighbouring one owned by cleaning company AES Services boss George Haritos to make the current 969-square-metre site offering.
It is not just uncertainty about the apartment market - but his age and health - that had prompted him to take a break, noting "all cycles come to an end."

Mr Yates's son Toby left the business last year after ten years as sales and marketing manager.

On its 2015 launch, construction was due for completion by the end of 2017. When CBRE was engaged to sell the apartment, it was suggesting a late 2018 completion, but again unable to find sufficiently boost buyer numbers.

Now Mark Wizel is selling the entire 49-55 Claremont Street site with its view towards the river and city skyline over the Melbourne High School oval.
He claims there had been "solid" interest in the "early 30 [million]s" for the site but that the expectations of Yates and Haritos "might be a little north of that".
Fairfax Media described the site as "spectacularly located" that "some sources are tipping could make way for the city's most exclusive apartment tower."
It anticipated a tower of possibly more than 30 storeys.
The site is along from his previously constructed Yarra House. 
The Michael L Yates & Co. project was set to continue their longstanding relationship with architects Bird de la Coeur and interior designers Hassell.
On its early 2016 launch The Urban Developer claimed Melbourne’s luxury apartment market was set to strengthen during 2016, driven predominantly by the baby-boomer cohort demanding high quality, spacious apartments in inner city pockets.
Yates, said on launch the past few years had seen the makings of the “boomer-boom”, with his nearby development Yarra House in South Yarra selling more than 70 percent of apartments to owner occupiers in the over-50 bracket.

According to Mr Yates, the baby-boomer demand for Yarra House was a shift from previous projects in the area where at least 40 percent of stock was purchased by investors.

“We have ensured 55 Claremont ticked the boxes for baby-boomers – spacious and flexible floorplans, a boutique development in a prime location and a dress circle view of Melbourne,” he suggested at the time of launch.

Industry observers noted the ignominy of his retreat in 2017 is that the name and the Michael Yates brand was built around the fact that he "lives and breathes South Yarra."

Known as the Forrest Hill Precinct, it is located between and includes the west side of Chapel Street through to Yarra Street, running north from Toorak Road through to Alexandra Avenue.

The precinct was brought to the attention of the market in 2005, when a large portion was acquired by Michael L Yates & Co, with its subsequent re-zoning following and development commenced. From the outset, the Precinct had potential for 50 development sites, of which 30 have now been fully developed providing in total around 3000 apartments.

Last year it was suggested 15 sites remained suitable for development, with a potential to produce a further 2,500 apartments. 

Yates' devotion to the area over four decades resulted in numerous developments that have included award winning projects such as 7 & 9 Yarra Street, 50 Claremont Street, and One Yarra Lane.

Previously Yates was proud of the high-end Georges Apartments on Little Collins Street in the Melbourne CBD.

Earlier in his career, Yates developed office buildings on Collin Street, including 400 Collins St, 414 Collins St and 454 Collins St.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.
New Developments
South Yarra
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