Frasers Property was this week forced to deny media reports that its massively ambitious plans for a sustainable makeover of the huge former Carlton & United brewery site at Broadway in Sydney were on hold indefinitely because of funding difficulties.
Cancellation or indefinite shelving of the Frasers Broadway site as it is now called, would be a huge blow for the sustainable property world.
Frasers’ plans are for $100 million of sustainability features that would set new benchmarks both in Australia and internationally.
They include a trigeneration plant that could possibly pump energy back into the grid, enough recycled water to supply all non-potable on site needs, and possibly some of its neighbours, green rooftops, smart metering and solar powered lighting in public spaces.
On top of this the company says it is “pro-actively investigating all available technologies and techniques to target 100 per cent carbon neutrality.”
And that’s just the headline items.
According to insiders at the company, the interest from professionals and other worthy causes such as academics has been so strong that the company has been seriously struggling with the deluge of requests for information and special briefings.
For this project to be put on hold would be almost a national calamity.
Frasers has gone a fair way to reassure concerned onlookers.
According to a media statement from Frasers, managing director Stanley Quek, was misinterpreted by journalists in his assessment of the global financial crisis and its impact on development projects.
“Developers cannot develop without borrowings. Banks in Australia and Singapore are strong but have become tight with lending, carefully re-assessing risks before making decisions,” Dr Quek had said, according to the media statement.
The schedule is for construction to start in 2010, the statement said but – and here is the clincher – “subject to development approvals and confirmation of project funding.”
The company’s official statement on Monday 20 April said that there was no intention to abandon any scheduled work. [Construction has yet to commence so it cannot be abandoned.]
Still on track are the site works and planning and approvals processes for the 8-10 year project.
Also going ahead will be a range of community commitments such as two parks, and $6 million in affordable housing contributions to the Redfern Waterloo Authority scheduled for this year – just to show that financially there is already a big investment in the site.
That doesn’t sound like someone about to pull the plug.
But then again, there are developers and then there are the masters of the financial universe. And right now the two are speaking different tongues.