BILLIONAIRE developer Lang Walker says 2012 has been a hard year, but with sales at his property empire’s residential projects picking up in recent months and office and industrial property values increasing, he hopes next year will be an easier run.
He said there were are already signs that the economy was improving, if only slightly.
“There’s a bit of confidence starting to come back into that market now,” Mr Walker, executive chairman of Walker Corporation, told The Australian.
“It’s been a hard year, but you’ve just got to work harder at it.”
Over the past 12 months, Mr Walker and his team have been rolling out the company’s industrial, office and residential projects, including the $1.5 billion Collins Square in Melbourne, from the company’s $4.3bn development pipeline.
But the past two years have been a tough slog for the company’s residential estates, with the housing market in the doldrums for much of this year.
Mr Walker said that recent interest rate cuts had started to make a difference.
“We’ve had a pick-up in our residential sales — not a huge amount, but certainly you know that it’s starting to move.
“We’d be hoping for one or two more interest rate cuts next year to get a bit more confidence back into the market.”
In the past few years, the company has developed several residential projects in Sydney, such as the Finger Wharf at Woolloomooloo, Rhodes Waterside and Balmain Cove.
In Melbourne, it has developed Main Drive, Kew, while Queensland is home to its Hope Island Resort. It also has developments in Western Australia.
Outside the residential arm of the business, Mr Walker said, the company had been busy this year working on its office projects, industrial developments and its $1.5bn Senibong Cove residential development in Malaysia, where the scale of the development had doubled over the year following strong demand from Singaporeans looking for more affordable housing.
Mr Walker’s pet project, the three-tower Collins Square on Collins Street, Melbourne, has also topped off a good year after securing CBA as a key tenant on a building under construction at the site, which already houses the newly completed headquarters of the Australian Taxation Office.
“Collins Square is doing well,” he said.
“There’s still a lot of interest in the rest of our site. We’re keeping the quality up.”
Recently, the company missed out on snaring energy provider AGL for one of the towers at Collins Square. AGL chose a Mirvac development nearby on Bourke Street, a fact that left Mr Walker smarting.
“It’s a bit disappointing,” he said.