$100m penthouse shows apartment living is scaling new heights

Source: AFR

As the lift doors open on level 81 of Crown’s tower at Sydney’s Barangaroo, sensory overload best describes the experience of viewing the harbour city through six-metre floor-to-ceiling windows 245 metres above sea level.

During a recent tour of the $100 million penthouse by AFR Weekend, rain clouds scud across the skyline as toy-like ferries, tall ships and cruise liners crisscross Sydney’s famous waterway below. The views extend north as far as Palm Beach, west to the Blue Mountains and south to the Royal National Park.

This staggering residence has arguably ushered in a new stratosphere of “super-prime” luxury penthouses now emerging across Australia, feeding a growing preference for inner-city living where convenience, service and ultra-luxe finishes are trumping maintenance-heavy mansions.

Goose-bump territory: Knight Frank’s Erin van Tuil in Crown’s Barangaroo tower penthouse.  Nick Moir

The six-bedroom, six-bathroom luxury abode occupies 800 square metres and features a steam room, plunge pool, cinema room, gym, three balconies and a private internal lift – and is one of the few residences still available in the controversial, and trailblazing, project.

When news emerged in 2017 of former Crown boss James Packer’s $60 million purchase of a two-level sub-penthouse in the WilkinsonEyre-designed tower, it effectively recalibrated the Sydney apartment market (the final settlement figure ended up at about $72 million). Now, a growing appetite for luxury city living is being met across the country.

The six-bedroom penthouse at Crown’s One Barangaroo is on the market for $100 million.  

In Melbourne, the city’s apartment record has just been reset with the $38 million off-the-plan sale of a sub-penthouse in developer Beulah’s $2.7 billion twin tower project in Southbank.

It’s the second Victorian apartment record clocked in the project dubbed STH BNK – after the $35 million sale of another sub-penthouse in the same tower – set to become Australia’s tallest when it’s completed in 2027.

A “transcontinental business owner” purchased the $38 million full-floor residence above level 75, which features a floor plan that can be customised, a 360-degree view of the city, and a resort-style concierge that includes housekeeping, shopping, child minding, pet services, plus an on-call doctor, beauty and massages treatments.

An interior render of the $38 million sub-penthouse that just sold in Melbourne’s STH BNK project.  

Beulah Managing executive director Adelene Teh says the appetite for luxury apartments is stronger than ever.

“Despite a challenging market due to rising interest rates, the
prestige market remains active, as we’ve seen with a number of
record-breaking sales recently, as these buyers often aren’t reliant
on funding from the banks,” she said.

A skyline projection of STH BNK By Beulah’s two-tower project slated for completion in 2027.  

Melbourne developer Tim Gurner – who sold a $30 million St Kilda penthouse to former Domain boss Antony Catalano in 2019 – says the appetite for a new breed of luxury apartments reveals a latent demand that’s finally being met in what he describes as a “coming of age” for the Australian market.

“I think it’s that when you create something that’s never been done, you worry the buyer isn’t there. But what we now know is the product hasn’t been there.”

Mr Gurner says well-travelled local customers now have international expectations.

“They’re used to staying in the best hotels in the world, that’s the lifestyle they want to have at home, and even at their wealth level they can’t have 24/7 butlers, cleaners and cooks at home – but they can in a penthouse.”

Back in Sydney, Crown selling agent Knight Frank’s Erin van Tuil says the project’s service component has transformed apartment living in the Australian market.

“It’s a complete lifestyle change, and it hadn’t been available here before. Branded residences have been available around the world, but this is the first in Australia.”

As part of a hotel and gaming complex, the 76 Crown residences come with access to Crown’s 15 on-site bars and restaurants – which can be used for in-room dining – along with valet, concierge, massage and hotel housekeeping.

An artist rendering of the penthouse apartment former Domain boss Antony Catalano has purchased in developer Tim Gurner’s Saint Moritz project in Melbourne’s St Kilda.  

“At the resident’s pool deck, the most ordered menu items are the salmon poke bowl and the Aberdeen Angus beef sliders,” says Ms van Tuil.

The $100 million penthouse was the first triple-digit apartment to hit the Sydney skyline, and it’s far from the last – the city’s penthouse market is now entering uncharted price territory.

The $140 million price paid by a mystery buyer in 2019 for a combined penthouse and sub-penthouse in Lendlease’s yet-to-be-completed One Sydney Harbour remains the country’s most expensive residential sale. The project has also gained a $52 million penthouse sale in its Residences 2 – the second tower in the three-tower project.

The astronomical record could soon be eclipsed by another Lendlease project at nearby One Circular Quay, where the yet-to-be-built penthouse is now available with price expectations north of $140 million. In the same project, contracts have been exchanged on two sub-penthouses worth $60 and $70 million – but nothing has been signed.

A render of Lendlease’s One Circular Quay, which is slated for completion in 2026 and is set to house Australia’s most expensive penthouse.  

Now, the super prime space – that is the top 1 per cent by value in any given market – is expanding across the country.

Last year, Queensland set an apartment record when $20 million was paid for a two-level under-construction penthouse in the Glasshouse development by The Spyre Group at Burleigh Heads.

Nicholas Clydsdale from CBRE handled the sale and says the Gold Coast’s luxury apartment space is showing no signs of slowing.

The Glasshouse penthouse in Burleigh Heads holds the Queensland apartment record at $20 million.  

“It really put the Gold Coast on the map in the super-prime market. Since then, the luxury market in apartments continues to blossom,” Mr Clydsdale said.

At nearby The Spit, developer Tim Gordon, of Gordon Corp, is readying to launch sales of his Mantaray Marina & Residences, where 24 apartments will be constructed around a 67-berth super yacht marina.

Slated for completion in 2025, Mr Gordon says the complex’s 12 penthouses are priced between $12 million and $28 million, and all come with private club access.

Developer Tim Gordon’s Mantaray project on the Gold Coast will offer penthouses priced at up to $28 million.  

“The offering is size, over two levels and all privately lifted. The penthouses have access to Mantaray Lounge, a floating private club located within the super yacht marina.”

In Brisbane, the penthouse record sits at $15.75 million paid for an off-the-plan apartment in New Farm’s Moray House, and in Perth, the record stands at about $23 million set by a combined penthouse in the just-completed One Subiaco by developer Paul Blackburne.