Investors snap up Sunbury Central for $40 million

Property experts believe the record $40 million sale of a major Sunbury shopping centre to private investors is a sign that people are waking up to opportunities in the growing town.

Settlement on the unadvertised 3.1-hectare Sunbury Central site, which includes Big W and Readings Cinemas, was reached earlier this week.

It’s believed to be the largest-ever single commercial property transaction in Sunbury and the Macedon Ranges.

Glenn Ingram, director of former owner Ingram Property Group, said the sale to Australian investors who could not be revealed was a big win for the town.

‘‘This certainly strengthens the capital values within the town centre for a long time,’’ he said.

Mr Ingram, who developed the centre which opened in 2000, said the sale and recent developments by major corporations such as Villawood and Australand reflected growing interest in the area.

‘‘The strength of the property indicates that there are plenty of people now who are seeing Sunbury as a regional base.’’

Mr Ingram said he believed Sunbury had been misunderstood in terms of the strength of its catchment and the way it attracted people from the Macedon Ranges.

‘‘What we know from our retail involvement in Sunbury is that we don’t see significant visitation from residents of Coolaroo or Broadmeadows … when we do surveys we generally get 20-30 percent of people from Macedon Ranges postcodes.

‘‘We are putting three national tenants in the [former McKinnons Electrical site] who don’t currently have a presence in Sunbury.

‘‘They’re tenants who are going to attract that broader community.

‘‘They won’t come from Craigieburn and they won’t come from Westmeadows, they will come from Gisborne, Clarkefield, Romsey and so on.

‘‘And when they do, they will bring other expenditure with them, which creates more jobs in the town which creates better opportunities and the need for more infrastructure.’’

Mr Ingram, whose group has many other interests in the area, said he was proud of what Sunbury Central had achieved.

‘‘You look back at things like putting a cinema in Sunbury, and Big W was the first discount department store … I think you can argue pretty solidly that Sunbury Central created not just job opportunities but opportunities for every other retailer in Sunbury, again because of that catchment effect.’’

JLL Australia retail investments director Stephen Bolton said the sale spoke volumes of what was going on in the area.

‘‘People have been eyeing off Sunbury for some time and things like the electrification of the train line have made it even more attractive,’’ he said.

Sunbury-based Hume councillor Jack Medcraft said it was confirmation that investors saw Sunbury as the centrepiece of the next major growth area.

‘‘This is going to draw business from all over. It’s a massive investment in Sunbury.

‘‘You can bet others will follow.’’

In June, Star Weekly reported that a 206-hectare residential site south of Sunbury was sold to Chinese investors.

The site, at 725 Sunbury Road, will be covered by a precinct structure plan being worked on by the Metropolitan Planning Authority (MPA) and Hume council.

The new area, to be known as Sunbury South, could include a new train station, schools and industrial and commercial centres to provide ‘‘more jobs than Sunbury has ever seen’’.