The City of Penrith in Sydney’s west is riding a wave of commercial activity with development focus sharpening on the key region. The recent topping out ceremony of Penrith’s first A-grade office building signalled one of the latest moves forward for the city, a step that will soon be followed by high-rise apartment towers, an apartment hotel, and several more office complexes.
Underpinning interest in Penrith is the slew of developments taking place on its doorstep: Western Parkland City which will account for more than a quarter of NSW’s population growth by 2035 and house about 1.4 million people by 2036; the Western Sydney International Airport set to open in 2026; Western Sydney Aerotropolis; the 114-hectare Bradfield City Centre; the $1 billion redevelopment of Nepean Hospital; a 7000 square metre city park, and $5 billion Sydney Science Park to name a few.
With Penrith Panthers now the reigning NRL premiers, the timing was also ideal for last month’s agreement between its owners the Panthers Group and leading hotel chain Accor to bring its five-star Pullman brand to the region.
The 153-room Pullman Sydney Penrith is scheduled to open by the end of next year. The hotel will form part of a $1 billion redevelopment of Penrith Panthers’ 60-hectare Mulgoa Road precinct into a state-of-the art business, hospitality, sports and hospitality offering, and take shape adjacent another major Panthers Group development – the 1000-person Western Sydney Conference Centre (WSCC).
Not only is the hotel designed to complement the WSCC, but it will also cater to patrons attending events at Penrith’s new 30,000 seat stadium being developed by the NSW government on the site of the nearby harness raceway.
High-end residential is also on the increase. Local developer Astina Group is building Solis luxury apartments and penthouses within a complex described as Penrith’s “most aspirational development yet”. Solis will come with a rooftop gym and sauna and offer views to the Blue Mountains. Only 12 months ago, the developer introduced a new level of prestige accommodation to the region with the launch of Astina Suites, 58 apartments as well as commercial tenancies. Astina Suites features Penrith’s first rooftop bar plus a rooftop function room, and gym facility with float tank, ice baths and a sauna.
On the eastern shore of Penrith’s Nepean River, Cabe developers is creating an entirely new neighbourhood. Cabe bills the 850-unit East Side Quarter (ESQ) as a “new lakeside urban village” and “the first of its kind” for the area. ESQ apartments will come with high-end fixtures, and offer water, lake and park views plus a rooftop pool. Other lifestyle amenity includes extensive landscaped areas created by Oculus, the same group behind the CBD’s Barangaroo precinct, featuring children’s play areas, workout stations and riverside paths.
The topping out of the $90 million A-grade 50 Belmore Street office building was accompanied by the announcement The NSW government agency Western Parkland City Authority (WPCA) will be one of the first tenants. The agency is to relocate from its current Parramatta head office premises once the eight-storey Bates Smart-designed development is completed. Developed by The Sandran Property Group, the new building opposite the train station on Penrith’s main thoroughfare offers a total 10,700 square metres of commercial space and comes with a five-star NABERS and Green Star rating.
Boom times for agents
The development boom has created unprecedented conditions for commercial agents. LJ Hooker Commercial Penrith’s David Reardon has worked in the area for 25 years and said the past 18 months had been the most exceptional in terms of activity and demand.
“Last year was incredible,” Mr Reardon said. “I said to the team ‘take a breath and remember this year as you’ll never see anything like this again’.
“Every month prices would escalate. Rents were pushing hard and going up. It’s starting to tail off but only a little due to interest rates – and because of the issues with lack of supply I don’t see it dropping substantially.”
The industrial sector currently was “absolutely roaring along”. “We’re seeing no negative effects yet and that’s due to lack of supply,” Mr Reardon said. “We’ve seen very, very strong rental growth for industrial with 20 per cent to 25 per cent jumps in rents in the last two to three years. Landlords are very happy at the moment as if a lease ends, we can usually turn it around very quickly – so quickly that opportunities are now mostly shifted off market.
“We’re still doing a lot of transactions yet they’re not promoted, in that opportunities don’t get off our desk because the amount of inquiry is huge. There’s no land supply so anything that does come up for sale races out the door.”
Penrith’s gentrification which started about five years ago was also helping fuel commercial activity and attracting higher standards of retail and hospitality operators to fill any vacancies. “Penrith’s high street retail is being transformed,” Mr Reardon said. “A lot of the $2 shops are disappearing and retail spaces are transitioning into a lot more of whisky and wine bars and the like. And the reason for this is that, particularly in the northern part of the CBD, a lot of units have gone up and as a result there’s more people who want to go out at night, so new business is coming in and creating a night time opportunity that didn’t exist before.”