Celebrating the Topping Out of Northsea

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Against a picturesque backdrop of ocean views and a not so pretty rental housing crisis, national property group Traders In Purple celebrated the topping out of Northsea, marking a critical milestone for a building that provides a blueprint for solving the nation’s housing crisis.

Developed by Traders In Purple, in partnership with NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) and community housing provider Housing Trust, Northsea is the first single core mixed tenure building in Australia. It achieved 100 per cent sell-out earlier this month.

The integration of affordable rental and privately owned apartments in a single building, with a shared lobby, lifts and communal spaces, is a deliberate move to provide more equitable access to secure quality housing.

Due for completion in mid-2024, Northsea rises 13 storeys overlooking Wollongong’s beaches and consists of 38 premium two and three bedroom private apartments, 18 apartments for Land and Housing Corporation and 9 for Housing Trust, dedicated to affordable housing.

Reflecting the importance of increasing the supply of high-quality new housing in the fast-growing Wollongong region, the topping out ceremony was attended by LAHC Chief Executive Michael Wheatley, Housing Trust CEO Michele Adair and Wollongong Council and business representatives.

The 65 new homes will relieve some of the housing pressure in Wollongong, where vacancy rates remain stubbornly below 1 per cent, but barely puts a dent in the shortfall of houses. The housing shortage is affecting the local economy where a recent survey revealed 93 per cent of businesses were suffering workforce shortages which 43 per cent attributed to the lack of affordable housing.

The survey also found that the rising cost of private rental housing meant key workers were paying 40 per cent of their income on rent.

Traders In Purple Director Charles Daoud, a passionate advocate for increasing the supply of community housing, said the lack of affordable homes risked undermining the fabric of Australian communities.

“People who are couch surfing, eking out an existence on inadequate retirement savings or trying to raise a family while paying half their income in rent, deserve better in a country like Australia,” said Mr Daoud. “Many of these people are key workers carrying out essential but often low paid jobs.

“The public private partnership behind Northsea gives hope to people who have a valuable contribution to make but are hindered by the costs or unavailability of a decent, affordable home. Local businesses are hurting too because the workers they need to operate at full capacity can’t find an affordable place to live.”

LAHC Chief Executive Michael Wheatley reiterated the role of partnerships in addressing the urgent need for additional housing. “The housing crisis is real and growing, and it’s only through innovative partnerships like this one, which leverages the expertise of the community housing sector that we’re able to deliver much needed housing sooner,” said Mr Wheatley.

Mr Daoud said the proposition to integrate private and community housing in a single building was considered by many as a risk to the marketability of the private dwellings.

“Contrary to many expectations purchasers were comfortable about living with community housing tenants once they understood their neighbours would be people just like them,” said Mr Daoud. “Northsea sold for market prices and was 85 per cent sold before construction commenced and completely sold out before the topping out.

“I want the industry and politicians of all stripes to take notice of the success of Northsea. This is the blueprint for dealing with the current housing crisis, with a financial model that works and a social return that is beyond calculation.”

Housing Trust CEO Michele Adair was instrumental in helping Traders In Purple develop strategies to break down the stigma often associated with community housing.

“Housing Trust has always championed diversity,” said Ms Adair. “This incredible project will welcome people from a variety of cultures, circumstances and generations. It will create a vibrant, inclusive community, showcasing how urban life thrives when we embrace the richness of our differences. As an Australian first for mixed tenure, Northsea sets a new standard for inner city living. “

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