How metros can create mini cities


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Contents
Introduction
Why transit-oriented developments (TODs) tick a lot of boxes
Delivering an integrated solution with the metro
Mid-town city changer

Introduction
Imagine a city that is globally competitive, vibrant, convenient and has a small carbon footprint. This city is a step closer as a visionary project in the heart of Sydney takes shape.

Investa and Oxford Properties Group are currently bringing to life a pair of buildings along Sydney’s Pitt Street. One building will be a sustainable, state-of-the-art workplace for 4,500 people, while the other will feature 234 apartments that promise to redefine renting in the city. 

Just as Hudson Yards in New York and Paddington Station on London’s Crossrail created new landmarks and distinctive destinations, the Pitt Street over station development offers a dazzling demonstration of a type of development rarely seen in Australia. 

​Delivering an integrated solution with the metro

Parkline Place will sit above the northern entrance of Sydney Metro’s new Pitt Street Station. Designed by acclaimed architecture firm Foster+Partners – the brains behind brilliant buildings like the Gherkin in London and the reconstruction of the Reichstag in Berlin – the 39-storey building will feature smart technology and a flexible design that is ready for the workplace of the future.

But sited above a station that is located 20 metres underground, Parkline Place presents a host of complex design challenges, says Investa’s Senior Development Manager, Alan Beaver.

Beaver, a trained engineer, has worked on some game-changers in the past: mission-critical hospital projects in regional New South Wales, high-end offices in Bangkok and the iconic Marina Bay Sands Resort in Singapore, which his children once dubbed “Daddy’s office”.

“I’ve led project teams for many years, but this is my biggest role yet. Our entire project team feels an immense sense of pride that we get to deliver such an innovative and important building for Sydney,” Beaver says.

Beaver says the project is “leading the way” for transport over station development in Australia. 

Transport-oriented developments, or TODs for short, have helped global cities to sharpen their economic competitiveness, cut carbon emissions and create more liveable, vibrant communities.

“This is not just another big building. We are delivering it over a metro station, and that adds an extra layer of complexity,” Beaver explains. “Our challenge is to integrate the construction, services and design of a piece of civic infrastructure with a high-quality premium-grade asset.”

Central to the challenge is the positioning of the building directly over the station. “Transport-oriented developments tend to happen side-by-side, rather than vertical. On this project, we are thinking carefully about how to connect the spaces, and to design a structure that can adapt and evolve in the future without impacting the station below.”

“Buildings do turn over relatively quickly in Australia – most commercial buildings have a 50-year life. But the station will be there for hundreds of years,” Beaver adds, pointing to London’s Underground, unveiled in 1863, and New York’s City Subway which opened in 1904. “We’ve put a lot of effort into the design and structure to ensure we can evolve the building over time.”
 

“We are thinking carefully about how to connect the spaces, and to design a structure that can adapt and evolve in the future without impacting the station below.”

Alan Beaver, Senior Development Manager, Investa


Why transit-oriented developments tick a lot of boxes
Transit-oriented developments concentrate jobs, housing and services around public transport stations. Cities from Stockholm to Singapore have reduced their carbon footprints and enhanced liveability with the help of TODs. Big benefits are up for grabs, according to the World Bank, including:

•    Productivity powerhouse: A higher concentration of jobs within a small area – known as the agglomeration effect – can boost a city’s competitiveness. Some studies have found doubling job density increases economic productivity by up to 10%.

•    People pleaser: Density around transport nodes with high-quality public areas creates vibrant communities and shorter commuting distances, which in turn makes a city more liveable. The TOD at Kowloon station in Hong Kong features an airport rail link, subways, buses, rail connections and taxis, as well as hotels, office towers, a high-end mall, cafés, restaurants and apartments that are home to 20,000 residents. 

•    Delivering dollars: Proximity to mass transit boosts the attractiveness of neighbourhoods and increases their real estate value. City governments can capture part of this value increase to finance more transport, affordable housing and other activities that support sustainable growth. In Hong Kong, for example, land value capture brought in around AUD$24.5 billion (HK$140 billion) in revenue between 1980 and 2005, and unlocked land for 600,000 public housing units.

•    Sustainable star: By concentrating jobs, services and housing around transit stations, TODs make public transport more attractive and reduce car dependence. In Stockholm, for instance, the gross value added per capita grew by 41% between 1993 and 2010, while emissions per capita decreased by 35%.

Mid-town city changer
Lucinda Mander-Jones, Investa’s Senior Development Manager on Pitt Street South, is also a big fan of TODs. She says the 39-storey residential building at Pitt Street South will be a “mid-town city changer”. 

Pitt Street South was designed by another celebrated architecture firm, Australia’s Bates Smart Architects, which was recently shortlisted in the 2021 World Architecture Festival awards for a residential building in Melbourne that is among the slimmest residential building globally. 

The sculpted building at Pitt Street South echoes the unique qualities of the Midtown precinct. The colour palette reflects the red, pink and terracotta hues of the heritage buildings nearby, and a stepped façade creates a sensitive scale between Edinburgh Castle Hotel and the EuroTower along Bathurst Street. Slated for completion in 2023, Pitt Street South will be the first build to rent development in Sydney’s CBD. “It is extremely exciting to see a new asset class come to life in our city – and to play a key role in creating opportunities for people to rent differently,” Mander-Jones says.

There’s a wellness floor with lap pool, spa and sauna, a full equipped gym and a yoga studio, another floor dedicated to coworking and retail tenancy, and a third space with dedicated social lounge and adjoining roof terrace overlooking Hyde Park on level 35. “All the spaces are designed to be flexible and adaptable so we can respond to the changing demographics and needs of the residents,” Mander-Jones explains. Then there’s flexibility and security of tenure, onsite concierge, security and maintenance teams, pet-friendly policies and the ability for people to “just click and move in”.  

The building will appeal to a wide range of tenants from those wanting amenity on their doorstep to those who care less about homeownership and more about on-demand services to downsizers looking for stability and security. 

The building is designed to achieve a 5 Star Green Star rating and high BASIX water and energy ratings, appealing to tenants who value sustainable features. 

Pitt Street South’s 234 residential apartments will be held for long-term rental, rather than sold to individual owners. This model, known as build to rent or BtR for short, creates a self-contained neighbourhood, “with an extensive amenity offering and a sense of community. It’s a true lifestyle product,” Mander-Jones adds. 

 

“We are creating a self-contained neighbourhood, with an extensive amenity offering and a sense of community. It’s a true lifestyle product.” Lucinda Mander-Jones, Senior Development Manager, Investa


A new build to rent management brand in Australia
In June, Investa launched Indi, a new build to rent management brand in Australia. With a name chosen to convey independence, freedom and community, Indi was established to reimagine rental. The platform, overseen by build to rent Funds Manager James Greener, is targeting 5,000 units, initially in Sydney and Melbourne. While the Indi platform and the build to rent asset class are new to Australia, the people that are creating it are not; Canadian headquartered Oxford Properties owns and operates 13,000 build to rent units in North America and the United Kingdom, and has another 20,000 forecast in the pipeline.

“We have a large undersupply of housing in Australia’s cities, and Indi can play an important role in addressing this shortfall by delivering better rental experiences where people desire to live – close to public transport and jobs within vibrant, thriving communities.”

Mander-Jones trained as an architect, working on projects in both Sydney and London. She spent three years with Foster+Partners and helped sustainable master planned communities in London get off the ground. Now, as part of a female-dominated delivery team led by Oxford Properties’ Development Director Nellie O’Keeffe, Mander-Jones says she is “very proud” to be in a team of strong women – including Kirsten Evans leading the construction team, Shelley Gavin leading the project management team and Assistant Development Manager from Investa, Bridget Allen. “We are leading the industry on this exciting and city changing project”.

"I’ve worked on other city-changing projects around the world, from Elephant Park and International Quarter in London to the New York Public Library design competition and Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi. To steer this transformational project – one that will change the way people live and rent– is truly a career highlight."

Keep up to date with Indi as the brand comes to life.