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    HPG calls for architects for $600m-plus One Sydney Park


    2019 - 06.13

    HPG Australia’s $600 million-plus One Sydney Park development in Sydney’s inner west Alexandria has moved a step closer to the starting line with a call to architect and landscape designers to compete in a design competition.
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    With its Stage 1 Masterplan now DA approved, One Sydney Park is set within Sydney Park and comprises a 44-hectare park and wetlands.

    The property at 205-225 Euston Road, which houses a 7000-square-metre empty warehouse, was purchased from Goodman Group in 2015.

    Under the scheme, HPG will develop 1300 sq m of mixed-use retail and it will comprise about 400 apartments across eight six-storey buildings as well as 8800 sq m of public space. There will also be $1.5 million allocated to public art.

    Architecture teams confirmed as taking part are Architectus in collaboration with Turf Design Studio for landscape design; Make Architects from London in collaboration with ASPECT Studios for landscape design; Woods Bagot in collaboration with McGregor Coxall for landscape design and MHNDUnion + Silvester Fuller in collaboration with Sue Barnsley Design for landscape design.

    HPG’s managing director Dr Adrian Liu said a winner will be announced early next month and it is expected the first-stage sales will be launched soon with construction set to start in early 2018. Rouse Hill

    IPartners’ first investment opportunity,a 48-lot residential development on two hectares in Sydney’s Rouse Hill, has closed within two weeks with a $3.3 million equity raising in a special purpose trust to acquire a 49 per cent equity stake in the development.

    The pre-tax, projected rate of return, based on the project’s feasibility study by the experienced developer, and 51 per cent project stakeholder, Clearstate, is expected to be 45 per cent over the next two years.

    IPartner’s managing directors??? Rob Nankivell and Travis Miller expect their investment platform, featuring 13 other shareholders including David Baxby and Craig Hutchison, will raise up to $75 million in the short term from sophisticated and wholesale investors seeking strong rates of return through investing in property developments and other asset classes.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    Rocket fuel: Sydney solids the country’s golden manure


    2019 - 06.13

    Stuart Kelly (right) and agronomist with Australian Native Landscapes Roger Crisp (left) check the soil in Stuarts paddock where biosolids have been used on the family property Ferndale, in Caloola, NSW. 6th September, 2017. Photo: Kate Geraghty Agronomist with Australian Native Landscapes Roger Crisp checks the soil in the Kelly’s paddock where biosolids have been used on the family property Ferndale, in Caloola, NSW. 6th September, 2017. Photo: Kate Geraghty
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    Stuart Kelly in his paddock where biosolids have been used on the family property Ferndale, in Caloola, NSW. 6th September, 2017. Photo: Kate Geraghty

    Stuart Kelly in his paddock where biosolids have been used on the family property Ferndale, in Caloola, NSW. 6th September, 2017. Photo: Kate Geraghty

    Stuart Kelly in his paddock where biosolids are being spread on the family property Ferndale, in Caloola, NSW. 6th September, 2017. Photo: Kate Geraghty

    Stuart Kelly in his paddock where biosolids are being spread on the family property Ferndale, in Caloola, NSW. 6th September, 2017. Photo: Kate Geraghty

    Stuart Kelly in his paddock where biosolids are being spread on the family property Ferndale, in Caloola, NSW. 6th September, 2017. Photo: Kate Geraghty

    Stuart Kelly in his paddock where biosolids are being spread on the family property Ferndale, in Caloola, NSW. 6th September, 2017. Photo: Kate Geraghty

    A frontend loader moves biosolids towards a spreader in a paddock where its being spread on the property Ferndale, in Caloola, NSW. 6th September, 2017. Photo: Kate Geraghty

    Stuart Kelly (right) and agronomist with Australian Native Landscapes Roger Crisp (left) check the soil in Stuarts paddock where biosolids have been used on the family property Ferndale, in Caloola, NSW. 6th September, 2017. Photo: Kate Geraghty

    Sheep farmer Stuart Kelly is grateful to the people of Sydney for their “continual output of fertiliser”.

    He calls it “rocket fuel”. Others may be cruder.

    Braving freezing winds to survey a paddock filled with lambs grazing on young green oats, Mr Kelly said it could now support four times as many sheep than before it was fertilised a few months ago with biosolids. Biosolids are treated and sanitised human waste with 20 per cent of the water removed.

    “Without doubt, these sheep are 20 per cent larger, better grown, mature quicker and have more wool than if they hadn’t had access to this paddock,” said Mr Kelly. His family, including father Cliff and brother Andrew, run 10,000 sheep on the property Ferndale at Ferndale, about 30 minutes drive from Bathurst.

    The roots of the oats were also deeper, the grain bigger and the quality better, he said.

    Biosolids are rich in phosphorous and nitrogen. They add carbon to the soil and break down more slowly than synthetic fertilisers, conditioning the soil and making it more drought resistant.

    More than 20 years ago, most sludge – what remains after sand, grit and water is removed from the waste flushed down Sydney’s toilets and sinks – was shipped to sea.

    Now nearly every scrap is being turned into 180,000 tonnes of organic fertiliser a year by Sydney Water. These biosolids are being reused as compost and to rehabilitate mines, but about 70 per cent is being used as organic fertiliser on farms in NSW’s west.

    You would think Sydneysiders would be full of it, but demand for the biosolids??? exceeds supply, said agronomist Roger Crisp from Australian Native Landscapes, one of three contractors selling biosolids??? produced by Sydney Water.

    The big issue with biosolids was the volume available: “If we go around saying how great it is people will be saying why isn’t everyone using it? There’s not enough.”

    Sydney Water’s innovative program was great, said NSW Minister for Energy and Utilities Don Harwin after visiting the Cronulla waste water treatment plant on Thursday as a truck left with another load.

    “There’s nothing better than the idea that the waste of the cities is, in fact, generating prosperity and income for the bush,” he said.

    Crop yields have improved by 20 to 30 per cent, he said, while Sydney Water was also saving money by generating 21 per cent of its own power [from the clean gas generated during its production],” he said.

    The Kellys first used biosolids in 2012 on their worst field. They were looking for a healthier and more cost-effective way to fertilise than synthetic fertilisers.

    “It was expensive upfront, but when you get a payout from it five years later, it was cheap in the long run,” said Stuart Kelly.

    His brother Andrew said some friends are “quite surprised we are spreading biosolids, human waste”.

    “It has been through a biological process,” he said. “The nutrients in the ground are also breaking it down, and then the sheep are eating [pasture fertilised with] it, and breaking it down it even further into protein and wool. It is that far removed, I am quite satisfied eating meat that is grazed on this. We are doing the environment a favour,” he said.

    Before farmers can apply biosolids, they need an environmental assessment. Councils and neighbours are notified. The soil has to be tested, governing where, when and how they will use it.

    It can’t be applied near a hill or near water. Farmers may not graze stock on paddocks treated with biosolids for at least 30 days although usually this doesn’t occur until later when the crop is ready, and 90 days, for lactating animals. They can’t use it for ground-growing crops such as potatoes, spinach or lettuce.

    To remove toxins and bacteria, Sydney Water screens and settles the sludge, which is then baked in digesters at high heat for two periods of 20 days or more.

    Over the years it has become better at removing water, making the product more concentrated and cheaper to transport. At the Cronulla plant every litre of waste coming in contains about 180 milligrams of solids, and after biosolids are removed less than one milligram of solids goes to waste.

    Like most children’s fascination with scatology, everyone in the industry puns and jokes although it is tough to find a new angle.

    Humour was a distraction from the smell emanating from the newly arrived black fertiliser – equivalent to about .05 per cent of Sydney’s output – that had just arrived at Ferndale last week.

    Someone said it looks like the truck spreading the solids has left skidmarks on the otherwise golden paddock.

    Later that day, a plough worked the biosolids into the soil, a process Mr Kelly describes as pushing s— uphill.

    Environmental engineer Jacqueline Thomas from the University of Sydney said Australian biosolids guidelines – such as the level of heavy metals, its use and its application – were stricter and more detailed than overseas. As well, the Australian population was very healthy so the risks were reduced. She said Australia’s use of biosolids was regarded as a model for other countries.

    NSW Health says there’s no evidence of an outbreak of illness caused by biosolids.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    Birkenstock’s sustainable shoe boxes


    2019 - 06.13

    The headquarters for German shoe company Birkenstock “ticks all the boxes” in terms of sustainability.
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    There’s a substantial amount of recycling and green principles are adopted throughout.

    Materials such as timber were sourced from local plantations.

    “We see our practice as both contemporary and sustainable. We couldn’t provide one of these without the other,” says architect Marc Bernstein, director of Melbourne Design Studio (MDS).

    The design won an architecture award in the category of sustainable architecture from the Australian Institute of Architects (Victorian Chapter).

    From the street, the Birkenstock Headquarters in Queens Parade Clifton Hill appears not dissimilar to other large stores selling shoes, with front-of-house simply decked out with trestle-style tables of shoes.

    However, great design isn’t always obvious at first glance. Let’s start with the front fa??ade.

    The previous shop front, added in the 1950s, has been replaced by two sets of glazing on either side of the front door.

    Rather than the usual single glassed fa??ade, MDS created two wind-locked chambers that can respond to the season.

    Hermetically sealed during the colder months of the year, this glazing system that contains the shop’s front window displays can be opened almost like a veranda.

    One of these double-sided systems even includes a patch of grass, almost suburban with the weeds proudly displayed.

    “Our ideas were partially informed by our approach to sustainability, but they also reflect Birkenstock’s philosophy, with our clients using the words ‘craftsmanship’, ‘quality’, ‘health’ and ‘slow fashion’ from the outset,” says Bernstein.

    As well as exposing the building’s past and revealing the original brick walls, MDS inserted a fascinating glass-topped channel in the timber floors.

    Old bottles discovered during the renovation are beautifully arranged, as are children’s lasts, tape measures, ticks and tacks.

    There’s also a range of shoes from Birkenstock, forming almost a “timeline” of the company’s designs.

    One of the criteria initially given to the architects was to create a domestic feel to the store.

    As well as the patch of lawn as part of the shop front, there’s an open fireplace and a galley-style kitchen where clients are served tea.

    “It was also important to create connections to the various ‘arms’ within the headquarters,” says Bernstein, pointing out the workshop at the rear of the building, beyond the courtyard (an entirely new building), as well as the warehouse and showroom for retail clients.

    “All staff walk through the front door but head off along the different paths,” he adds. As Birkenstock has a philosophy of repairing customers’ shoes, having an accessible and visible workshop in sight was paramount.

    The workshop has a slightly Japanese-feel, with recycled sugar gum timber battens forming a sliding screen on the outside.

    “The screen can be pulled back on warmer days or ‘closed down’ during more inclement weather,” says Bernstein.

    One of the magical design features is the black steel spiral staircase that leads to the main open plan office space on the top level.

    Simply juxtaposed to the raw red brick rear fa??ade and new steel-framed windows, it’s been “pierced” with the word “Birkenstock”.

    “Everything that’s new has been crafted in black steel so there’s a clear delineation between the past and the present,” says Bernstein.

    The office at the top of the building comes with its own terrace, offering impressive views of Melbourne’s skyline.

    The staff kitchen, leading the terrace has been as thoughtfully considered, with recycled bamboo used for the kitchen joinery and plywood.

    The kitchen’s splashback, a scene taken from the village in Germany where Birkenstock began its global journey, adds a quirky touch.

    Birkenstock Headquarters doesn’t scream for attention from the street. However, even if you don’t come to get your Birkenstocks mended in the workshop, take the time to traverse the courtyard!

    It’s certainly worth each of the handmade stiches!

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    Sydney buyers look south


    2019 - 06.13

    A wave of Sydney investors in the Melbourne apartment market is tipped to strengthen in the next few months.
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    Lower prices and higher immigration levels are the lures for Sydney buyers put off by the harbour city’s more expensive entry points.

    Conversely Melbourne investors are increasingly discouraged by new stamp duty regulations which remove discounts for non-home buyers.

    The shift comes as Urbis’ apartment report showed a 40 per cent decrease in apartment sales across Australia in the June 2017 quarter.

    The weighted average cost of an apartment in Sydney rose significantly to $1.15 million – up 13 per cent or $151,000 – whereas prices for inner Melbourne fell by $51,000 to $655,686 thanks to a surge in sales of one-bedroom flats.

    Urbis national director of property economics and research Clinton Ostwald said the price of a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment rose by $200,000.

    “Obviously the Sydney market is extremely competitive, and that translates to the apartment market,” Mr Ostwald said.

    Gurner managing director Tim Gurner said buyers from Sydney “are definitely coming and I think they are coming in great numbers”.

    They make up between 25 and 30 per cent of the investor pool he’s dealing with, Mr Gurner said.

    “I don’t think it’s as much as it could be, given Melbourne is so affordable,” he said.

    “Melbourne investors are slowing down because of the stamp duty changes but it’s not putting off Sydney buyers because they are already used to higher prices.”

    Evolve Development managing director Ashley Williams said: “We’ve been seeing it for the past 12 to 18 months.

    “The Sydney market has really taken off and prices have jumped quite significantly. People are looking for more affordable product and they like what Melbourne has to offer.

    “We’re seeing enquiry for Melbourne projects especially from investors who like the price point in Melbourne,” he said.

    “And also in the house and land market. You can get into a Melbourne project for under $500,000 where the same property in Sydney will set you back $700,00-$800,000,” he said.

    Investors are attracted to Victoria’s buoyant economy and population growth. Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows Victoria accounted for 33 per cent of new jobs compared with 20 per cent in Sydney; interstate migration is strong and Victoria’s residential vacancy rate is just 1.7 per cent.

    “We’re seeing an investment migration. There’s an opportunity to buy apartments and houses in Melbourne for significantly less than what one would expect to pay in Sydney,” he said.

    Evolve is now pitching its new Botanic project in Coventry Street, South Melbourne to Sydney investors. One-bedroom apartment prices start at around $425,000 and two-bedders at $655,000.

    Colliers residential sales agent Tim Storey said there are two key drivers behind the shift to Melbourne.

    “Sydneysiders look to Melbourne because of two things. Firstly, the position. Sydney buyers would be paying at least 2.5 times minimum for a comparative product,” Mr Storey said.

    “Secondly, we are finding the typical return for a one bedroom in Sydney is very similar in price per week rent but 2.5 times the price paid. Yields are drastically lower in Sydney,” he said.

    Growland chief executive Ronald Chan said regulatory changes have also put off foreign buyers and his group is starting to focus on the owner-occupier market.

    “Interest from foreign buyers is slowing due to regulatory changes, so the market has adapted to meet the preferences of the local owner-occupier market which is quickly gaining in strength,” Mr Chan said.

    Growland has brought forward the launch of its second building at the $600 million, six-tower Victoria Square project in Footscray in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

    About 90 per cent of the first tower has sold in four months.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    The battle over same-sex marriage in Australia hits the streets


    2019 - 06.13

    Late on Wednesday night, while the High Court mulled over the marriage postal survey, Canberra hacks imbibed at their usual haunt in Manuka. Buoyed by liquor, the verdict was already in: not a single Labor staffer believed the challenge would succeed, and almost every Liberal (they were all moderates) hoped it would.
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    The plan B that no one really wanted has now come to fruition. And its outcome is impossible to predict, in large part because this survey is voluntary, and will present campaigners with a question unprecedented in Australian political history: how do you get out the vote?

    At 91 per cent, turnout at last year’s federal election was the lowest since compulsory voting was introduced in 1925. That reflects a worldwide trend, according to the Australian Election Commission, and it’s particularly pronounced among voters under 40.

    For decades, researchers at the Australian National University have asked Australians about this matter. In 2016, 80 per cent said they would still vote if it were voluntary – down from 88 per cent in 2007 – and only about three quarters of those would “definitely” vote, while a quarter would “probably”.

    That’s in a federal election. No one can say how many people will bother to participate in an optional, mail-in survey on an issue that enjoys broad but not deep support. But there is at least one precedent. In 1997, Australians were asked to elect representatives to a “constitutional convention” on a possible future republic. The participation rate was 46.9 per cent – and only a third of 18- to 25-year-olds voted. The turnout peaked at about 60 per cent for those 55 and over.

    “The standard thing around the world with voluntary voting is young people are least likely to vote,” says ABC election analyst Antony Green, who blogged about the figures last month.

    That’s a dark background for the “yes” campaign, which is counting on the massive support for same-sex marriage among the young. This is no longer a campaign for hearts and minds – after years of agonising debate inside Parliament and out, most Australians have made up their minds.

    As such, the “yes” side has switched gears into a full-blown, US-style “get out the vote” effort. But political hard-heads are openly worried about turnout and apathy. Senior Liberal operative Andrew Bragg, director of the “Libs and Nats for Yes” campaign, says voters need to plan their vote, down to the nitty gritty of what post box they will use.

    “Complacency is a major concern,” he says. “A majority for ‘yes’ is no certainty at all, partly because of the manual postal method. Australia is not accustom to ‘get out the vote’ campaigns, and a detailed, tangible voting plan is our best bet.”

    Hence the workmanlike television advertisement launched by the Equality Campaign this week, featuring a motley crew of neighbours striding purposefully towards their local post box. Strategists will ask people to turn voting into a shared activity with friends, family and colleagues. And in the City of Sydney, information kiosks will be set up near post boxes to help get ballots in the bag.

    “If they don’t, we may not win,” says campaign co-chair Alex Greenwich. “This is certainly an uphill battle for us … this is completely uncharted territory. We will have a lot of work to do in terms of raising awareness.”

    Though the campaign will drag on until the November 7 deadline, strategists know most of the action will be early on. They have learnt from the experience of unions, who regularly hold voluntary mail-in ballots, that huge numbers are returned in the first few days. Greenwich expects efforts to crescendo around the weekend of September 23 and 24, by which time most people will have received their forms.

    Same-sex marriage opponents have a somewhat different task. On all polling, they start behind, which they have tried to fashion into underdog status. The slogan “it’s OK to say no” is a callout to the alleged silent majority inclined to oppose same-sex marriage but cowed into submission by the elites and polite society.

    It is a slogan that appeals to any lingering uneasiness – or queasiness, perhaps – about changing the definition of marriage, and about gay relationships in general. And it has a collateral implication: if it’s OK to say “no”, it’s perfectly fine to abstain and not say “yes”. Minimising the turnout is not a stated goal of opponents, but it would not hurt. They won’t say it publicly, but they know they’re better off in a voluntary postal survey than a compulsory plebiscite.

    The “no” campaign is a murkier beast, too. While Australian Christian Lobby director Lyle Shelton appears regularly on TV and radio, campaign HQ would not grant Fairfax Media a phone interview with any spokesperson on Friday. An unnamed operative requested questions be sent by email, which Fairfax Media refused, and then supplied a written response to questions that weren’t asked.

    Several big players on the “no” side are current or former Liberal figures. One man who is back in the fray is Tio Faulker, former president of the ACT Liberal Party and ex-aide to senator Zed Seselja. Just weeks ago, Faulkner told Fairfax Media he had been living overseas for seven months and was “no longer employed in the campaign”. On Friday, his name appeared on a Coalition for Marriage mass mailout.

    Faulker’s official title is National Director, Field Campaign Operations and Logistics. He said his campaign strategy “is not secret”, but also refused a phone interview. He is joined by Sophie York, a Liberal Party member and failed preselection candidate, and occasional spokeswoman Monica Doumit, a lawyer who runs the Catholic Talk lobby group.

    It was Doumit whose words the Coalition for Marriage emailed to Fairfax Media on Friday, with a message strikingly similar to the “yes” campaign. They too said they had been inundated with support this week. They too encouraged all Australians to discuss the issue with family, friends and neighbours. And they too will hold rallies in major cities, like the “yes” rally taking place in Sydney on Sunday.

    For many, including most government MPs, the end of this protracted, unorthodox process can’t come soon enough. And the kicker? Come November 15, the result will be announced by the star of the 2016 census debacle, chief statistician David Kalisch.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.