Channel Nine’s famous Sydney headquarters, once dubbed the “home of television”, is up for sale. The 2.9 hectares in Willoughby is on the market with a value of more than $150 million.
Nine has been broadcasting from the site on Artarmon Road for 50 years, its tenure dating back to the time of network founder Sir Frank Packer.
It was Sir Frank’s idea to hand out the now-legendary Christmas hampers to Nine’s neighbours after the network first began landing its helicopters at the site.
His son, Kerry Packer, took over the reins of the business and significantly upgraded the site over many years. He sold the network and site and then bought it back from Alan Bond in the early 1990s.
A Nine spokeswoman said: “If we are successful in the sale process, it means we may one day relocate from the Willoughby campus, but that will not happen any time soon”.
But the transmission tower that sits nearby is independently-owned by TX Australia, is located on a separate block, and will stay. The three transmissions dishes on the site will be demolished once the network leaves.
Discussions to sell the land for redevelopment started a decade ago but were shelved. The latest round was reignited about two years ago, but the plan has faced tough opposition from the local Willoughby Area Action Group.
After a lengthy battle, Nine will now sell the land to a developer. No sale price for the land disclosed but developers said the site could command up to $150 million, thanks to its city and district views.
In early January, Nine chief executive David Gyngell, whose father Bruce was the first person on Australian television, received the news that NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) and the NSW Land and Environment Court had allowed an increase in the maximum number of apartments to 400 units, up from the previously approved 350 units. Among the significant details contained in the court’s determination are a 6 per cent reduction in overall floor space allowing more open space and less site coverage.
The apartments will be housed in five planned buildings will be limited to a maximum height of eight storeys. Two rows of terrace houses also form part of the plan.
Nine will sell property through CBRE’s Matt Ramsay and Scott Gray-Spencer on the basis of a leaseback, providing time for the network to secure new Sydney premises and move.
This will be the second such deal for Nine, which in 2010 sold its former Bendigo Street, Richmond site in Melbourne to Lend Lease, for a reported $50 million. The first stage sold out quickly and the second of three stages, of what is now a $450 million development was launched late last year.
Mr Ramsay said he expected significant local and offshore developer and investor interest. “The NSW government has a clear focus to address Sydney’s housing shortfall and this site is ideally positioned to deliver a project of significant scale in a highly desirable, north shore location,” he said.
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