Avari Takes Control of Former AWA Radio Tower


Real estate fund Avari Capital has taken a $38.8-million controlling stake in the AWA Building, which was once Sydney’s tallest tower and featured in the film The Matrix.

The purchase comes as the private equity fund records $1 billion in assets under management within seven years.

This includes a more-than-50 per cent stake in the 14-storey building and former radio tower at 45 York Street, Sydney, which it plans to refurbish in similar style to 355 Spencer Street in Melbourne.

In the past 12 months Avari has bought the Sands & McDougall building for $38.5 million, 10 Hobart Place in Canberra for $17.75 million for refurbishing, and a 20-unit apartment block at 400 Pacific Highway in Crows Nest, to be redeveloped.

It also picked up the Nudie Juice headquarters at 77 Corish Circle in Banksmeadow for $8.6 million and sold it 14 months later for $15.88 million.

A recently refurbished office with a brick wall, greenery and modern features within the old building.
▲ The AWA tower will be refurbished in a similar style to the Sands & McDougall building, where Avari's Melbourne office is located.

Avari founder and chief investment officer Alan Liao said they specialised in quick-turnaround, value-add commercial property transformations, a strategy that has returned more than 20 per cent gains to investors every year.

“Our model is very active, we find undervalued assets, refurbish them, fix the tenancy and management issues, and exit—our holding period is typically 24 to 30 months,” Liao said.

“[The AWA Building at] 45 York is such an iconic art deco building and we are really excited about bringing it back to life.

“It’s a very competitive landscape right now, with lots of investors on the hunt for yield.

“However, we think this period of cap rate compression is coming to an end, which plays well to our active management approach, but won’t be ideal for those who are banking on making returns simply from the market going up.”

The exterior of 45 York Street Sydney, has a 14 storey art deco office building with a white Eiffel tower style, radio tower above.
▲The art-deco York Street building and radio tower was the symbol of the Sydney radio scene for decades.

The AWA Building was put on the market in May with an expressions of interest campaign led by CBRE’s Harry George and major owner and building occupier Legacy Club Services.

George acted on behalf of four separate owners to sell their strata suites, accounting for 57.81 per cent of the strata area and 52.17 per cent of the voting rights.

The art-deco York Street radio tower was constructed for Amalgamated Wireless Australasia Limited in 1939 and was Australia’s tallest building for more than 20 years.

In 2007, the building strata was subdivided into 23 strata-titled lots. The sale involved 2723sqm of semi-contiguous office and basement retail space offering a weighted average lease expiry of 4.10 years.

The suites were fully leased to occupiers including Legacy Club Services and MSM Loss Management, providing a net passing income of more than $1.76 million.

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