Housing debt ‘explosion’ looms over the horizon: Judo Bank


Judo Bank chief executive Joseph Healy has sounded a warning over the ongoing build-up in housing debt, saying it would be foolhardy to assume interest rates will stay at record lows for an extended period of time.

Mr Healy, who previously ran National Australia Bank’s flagship business bank, on Monday said one of his key concerns over the medium to long-term was the “almost uncontrollable rise in household debt”.

Judo Bank chief executive Joseph Healy said the build-up in housing debt was a cloud on the horizon. Credit:Louie Douvis

“We see it in the housing market. It almost defies economic logic,” he said.

“The banks have been lending at six, seven, eight times disposable income, and loan-to-value ratios have been climbing up. Now this is in an economy that already, pre-COVID, had the second highest household debt ratio in the world.”

“So you’ve got this huge explosion in housing asset prices, huge explosion in debt, albeit in a low interest rate environment. But to assume that a low interest rate environment is going to hold, three years plus from now, in an inflationary environment, is foolhardy.”

“So for me that’s one of the clouds on the horizon,” Mr Healy said at a Trans-Tasman Business Circle event in Sydney.

Judo is a challenger bank targeting small and medium enterprises, a market that is attracting a wave of interest from major banks, as many firms lock in cheap funding to upgrade their equipment or machinery.

Despite his concerns about housing debt, Mr Healy painted an upbeat view on the outlook for business credit, and also confirmed the company was considering bringing forward plans to potentially float the business, in order to access capital.

“It’s not a definite, but it’s something we’re evaluating,” he said.

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Boomers deepen housing crisis by staying in empty nests


“From my point of view, we’ve got a lot more options by hanging onto the place as long as we can rather than downsizing or doing something before we retire in full.”

Her 24-year old daughter Nicole, who rents in Camperdown, said it would be difficult to buy an entry level apartment, let alone a house, which is some years away for her.

“It is harder to save for a deposit when you are paying rent. I would be more inclined to move back in with my parents when I’m serious about my property goals,” Nicole said.

Emanuel Comino of McGrath Leichhardt said Baby Boomers increasingly factored in their adult children returning home as a reason not to downsize.

“It’s certainly something they consider. I spoke to a client who is doing exactly that,” he said. “They’re looking at downsizing but won’t do so until their last of their dependents has either secured a home or has made a decision to move.”

For first-home buyer Claire Walker, returning to her family home in Strathfield allowed her to buy her own place in Dulwich Hill a lot sooner.

“A two bedroom apartment was probably not what I thought I would be purchasing as my first home two years ago. But I guess that’s the cards we’ve been dealt with,” she said.

“We couldn’t have done it without our parents. I always thought we’d have a big block of land as our first house but it looks like everyone is going to somewhere smaller.“

While Ms Walker’s parents have contemplated downsizing, they are happy where they are. It allows them to accommodate their children and grandchildren when they come back home.

Henny Stier, principal buyer’s agent at OH Property Group, says the cost of childcare is another reason many Baby Boomers hold onto the family home.

Nicole and Ashley Reed have moved into their own flat.Credit:Steven Siewert

“With childcare being so expensive, there are a lot of people who are taking care of grandchildren so the grandparents do need the backyard, the spare bedrooms,” Ms Stier said.

Rebecca Bissett owned a home in Epping until last year but still chose to move to her parents’ place in Hunters Hill with her husband and three children while they searched for an appropriate housing upgrade.

“Instead of renting, my parents have a really large home and we thought we’ll move in with them. We were wanting to upgrade in the Putney [and] Concord area,” Ms Bissett said.

Changing suburbs

The retirement of the Baby Boomer generation – born between 1946 and 1961 – is reshaping the demography of many Sydney suburbs. In the north shore and eastern suburbs – both high amenity districts well connected to the CBD – the number of workers has stagnated.

Over the two years to April 2021 total employment in the north shore’s statistical district fell by 13,000. In the eastern suburbs employment declined by 5000 over the same period.

“This suggests the fall in employment is being driven more by demographic change, such as Baby Boomers leaving the labour force, than by economic factors,” says Rawnsley.

In contrast, employment in many Sydney districts much further from the CBD, and with younger age profiles, registered solid employment gains in the two years to April 2019 despite the effects of last year’s recession. This includes Parramatta (+8000), Sutherland (+5600), the outer western suburbs (+4000) and Blacktown (+3300).

The share of over-65s living in much of Sydney’s north shore and eastern suburbs is now well above the city-wide average, according to data from the Public Health Information Development Unit at Torrens University.

A different retirement

Terry Rawnsley says the lifestyle preferences of Sydney’s retirees have shifted. “In past generations, as people hit retirement age they were thinking about moving up the coast or into a retirement village, and when that happened it opened up housing for new people to move in,” he said.

Claire Walker with partner Hugh and her parents outside their family home

Claire Walker with partner Hugh and her parents outside their family homeCredit:Steven Saphore

“There are still some people doing for sure, but in the current Baby Boomer generation more people seem to be staying put because of the lifestyle it provides, like the cafes and other amenities … they seem to be more tied to an urban lifestyle than perhaps previous older generations were.”

Rebecca Bissett said her parents, who are retirees, have no intention of downsizing because they love their space and the neighbourhood.

“They’re in good health. They’re only young themselves, in their 60s and they’re in a good area. They don’t want to move,” she said. “I don’t envision them ever selling the home. They built that themselves. It’s their dream home.”

Catherine Murphy of The Agency North said some home owners were also fearful of change.

“When people have been in their community and their home for a very long time, there is a fear of what’s next? And is the grass any greener [when downsizing]?

“When I’m talking about selling, they ask: ‘But where will I go? I don’t want to share a wall with someone else. I don’t want to pay strata’, ” Ms Murphy said, adding that strata fees were a big bone of contention for would-be downsizers.

Older Australians are also staying attached to the jobs market for longer.

“For many, retirement is the trigger to shift from the empty nest family home but that is being delayed because in a knowledge economy older people can keep working a lot later in life,” said social researcher, Mark McCrindle.

The high quality health services in inner Sydney are attractive, and there are also many barriers to downsizing.

A recent Grattan Institute report on housing affordability concluded the failure to build more medium-density housing in established suburbs means older people lack downsizing options in their local area.

Kathleen Synnott of Atlas Northern Districts says a lack of local smaller alternatives forces Baby Boomers in many suburbs to stay put for longer. She says downsizers face stiff competition for townhouses and villas from younger buyers including first-timers.

“The reason why I see people holding on [to the family home] is that they haven’t got, in their minds, a wonderful choice out there … it is not a good enough driver [to move],” Ms Synnott said. “Changing an area and a home for them is bigger than Ben Hur for them.”

Dana Reed and her husband Rodney at their inner west house  with their daughters Nicole and Ashley, who have moved out.

Dana Reed and her husband Rodney at their inner west house with their daughters Nicole and Ashley, who have moved out.Credit:Steven Siewert

Tax and welfare settings also discouraging empty-nesters from moving.

Because primary residences are not included in the age pension means test, pensioners may lose some or all of their pension if they downsize. Another disincentive is stamp duty on the purchase of a smaller home. A NSW government proposal to replace stamp duty with an annual land tax aims to reduce disincentives for moving, although this change has not yet been implemented.

A city-wide challenge

Sydney’s housing mismatch is already having far-reaching consequences. “It’s a real challenge from an urban planning perspective,” says Rawnsley.

The trend for empty-nesters to stay put limits the supply of well-located family homes which, in turn, puts upward pressure on the price of properties that do become available.

It is one of many factors contributing to the high cost of housing in Sydney. Figures released by CoreLogic last week showed the city’s median house price rose by 3.5 per cent last month, one of the biggest monthly gains since the late 1980s, to a record $1.186 million.

When prime-age workers are forced to locate a long way from work hubs it puts added pressure on overstretched transport networks as well as other basic services including schools and hospitals. If more workers are locked into long commutes it will increase the economic and personal costs of congestion.

Rawnsley warns that excluding young workers from suitable, well-located housing will drag on the economy by discouraging workforce participation. It may even reduce the fertility rate.

“When people are pushed to houses on the urban fringes they might say ‘actually I’m so far away from job options I won’t work as much’- this is particularly the case for women of child rearing age,” said Rawnsley. “So you get people dropping out of the labour force.”

Alternatively, if working couples choose to settle in a small cheaper dwelling close to their employment it may mean they have fewer children.

As the population ages, Sydney will need to find ways to better meet the housing needs of young families.

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Pound lifted by signs of UK jobs recovery; US housing starts fall – business live


Rolling coverage of the latest economic and financial news

  • Pound hits $1.42 against weaker dollar, highest since February
  • Lamborghini outlines roadmap to electric supercars
  • UK unemployment rate fell to 4.8% in January-March
  • Employment rate picked up
  • Payrolls jumped 97,000 in April… vacancies also up
  • But… longer-term unemployment rose
  • Economic inactivity among young people at record

3.31pm BST

Back in the currency markets, the pound is still trading around its highest levels since late February.

Sterling is up over half a cent at $1.4195 (having reached $1.422 this morning), with the drop in unemployment and rise in company payrolls providing support.

As for FX market today, risk sentiment is positive, commodity prices and equities are stronger and the dollar’s weaker.

UK employment suggest that the labour market is now on an improving trend and vaccination rates suggest the Eurozone is going to a growth acceleration too.

3.13pm BST

The New York stock market has opened cautiously

The Dow Jones industrial average is down 80 points, or 0.25%, at 34,246 while the broader S&P 500 dipped by 0.15%.

Our optimism is higher than it was at the beginning of the year. In the U.S., customers clearly want to get out and shop. We have a strong position as our store environment improves and eCommerce continues to grow.

Stimulus in the U.S. had an impact, and the second half has more uncertainty than a typical year. We anticipate continued pent-up demand throughout 2021.

U.S. stock benchmarks traded flat to lower Tuesday morning, even amid better-than-expected quarterly results from retailers, with declines in communication services and energy offsetting gains in technology shares. https://t.co/nVNcHPVEfb pic.twitter.com/Cb1NNFioZ6

Continue reading…

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Housing SA tenant ‘sticking up’ for others as her Seaton home continues to fall apart from termite damage


An Adelaide public housing tenant says she has waited two years for termite damage in her home to be fixed and has grass growing through her bedroom floor.

Seaton resident Sylvia Carter, who has a vision impairment, told the ABC a gum tree in her front yard has been deemed too dangerous to stand under by Housing SA. 

Ms Carter said she first noticed the termite problem two years ago when the insects flew out of the woodwork in her home and “chased” her.

An exterminator killed them that night, but the damage they have wrought in her home has not been fixed.

Termite damage to a door frame in Sylvia Carter’s property.(

ABC News

)

“It’s just a situation that’s gotten out of hand and if it’s gotten out of hand in this house, I’d like to know how many other houses are in this situation?” Ms Carter said.

She said five inspectors had come to look at the damage over the past two years, along with several carpenters, but her complaints, including that grass was growing in her bedroom through the floor, had “fallen on deaf ears”. 

She said Housing SA’s maintenance department told her to speak to the housing manager, who then told her to speak to maintenance.

“It’s just like a round, vicious circle,” she said.

“You ring one to let them know what’s happening; they put you onto another.”

A woman with black hair
Sylvia Carter says she has contacted multiple people about maintenance problems in her home.(

ABC News

)

Funding up but backlog grows

The opposition said Ms Carter’s situation was typical of the maintenance backlog on thousands of Housing SA homes.

“What we’re hearing from people in the community is that they are still waiting for years on end to get their maintenance issues addressed,” Labor MP Nat Cook said.

“Sylvia is one of those people.”

She said a backlog of jobs was building up despite the state government announcing a $21 million maintenance stimulus nearly two years ago.

Housing SA’s maintenance budget was $141 million in 2019–20 compared to $118 million in 2017–18.

Exposed bricks in a cream-coloured painted brick wall
Salt damp damage in Ms Carter’s Seaton house.(

ABC News

)

A large number of Housing SA homes in Seaton have been emptied ahead of being demolished to make way for a mix of new public housing and affordable units for private sale.

While her home is not on the chopping block, Ms Carter said it did worry her about ever having to leave.

“[I’m] really upset and [it depresses me and know that I could be moved out of my home and not be told about it,” she said.

“I’ve lived here for 21 years — this house is all I’ve got — it’s my memories; it’s everything to me.”

A small red brick house with wood boards in the windows
A boarded-up Housing SA home opposite Ms Carter’s property.(

ABC News

)

Tenant contacted without response

Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink said Housing SA had had trouble contacting Ms Carter over her complaints.

“Housing SA has repeatedly tried to gain access to the property and contact the tenant without success and has again tried to contact the tenant today,” Ms Lensink said.

“Labor left a shocking legacy in public housing — they routinely cut housing maintenance as a budget savings measures and homes were left to rot — and we’re fixing their mess.

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L.A. Fire Dept. Battles Blaze Using Lot Considered for Temporary Homeless Housing


The Los Angeles Fire Department is using the Will Rogers State Beach parking lot as a staging area as it battles a wildfire above the Pacific Palisades neighborhood — the same lot L.A. City Council member Mike Bonin wants to use for homeless shelters.

As Breitbart News has reported, Bonin has proposed building temporary homeless housing facilities at local beaches, using the existing parking lots. The goal, he says, is to ease the transition into permanent housing, and relieve pressure on the city’s parks and recreation facilities over the long term. But residents are furious, and some are already campaigning for Bonin’s recall.

Over the weekend, several fires broke out above the Pacific Palisades and Topanga communities. Locals suspect arson, as the fires broke out in several areas in succession. As of Sunday afternoon, over 1300 acres were burning, with 0% contained.

The Palisades fire burns in the distance behind the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine, May 15, 2021. (Joel Pollak / Breitbart News)

On Sunday, the local fire department used the parking lot at Will Rogers as a staging area for the media and emergency vehicles.

Will Rogers staging area (Joel Pollak / Breitbart News)

Los Angeles Fire Department vehicles assemble at the Will Rogers State Beach parking lot near Pacific Palisades, California, May 16, 2021. (Joel Pollak / Breitbart News)

Last week, a committee on the city council voted 4-1 to study Bonin’s proposals, despite strenuous objections by residents.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new e-book, The Zionist Conspiracy (and how to join it). His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.



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Labor’s housing plan doesn’t go nearly far enough – 16 News


Australian Greens Housing spokesperson Senator Mehreen Faruqi has said that Labor’s plan doesn’t go nearly far enough to tackle the housing crisis, slash waiting lists and provide universal housing.

Senator Faruqi said:

“The scale of the housing crisis requires serious ambition and unprecedented funding. Labor has missed the mark on that front.

“Any housing plan that doesn’t dismantle the tax loopholes which inflate prices isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. Labor has failed to renew its commitment to wind back negative gearing and capital gains tax exemptions, forgoing revenue that could be used to build more homes.

“When it comes to new builds, we need to be talking in the hundreds of thousands of homes – not in the tens of thousands.

“The sector expects that over the next fifteen years, we’ll need more than 700,000 new dwellings. Labor’s commitment is a fraction of what’s required.

“The Greens have committed to building one million homes over the next twenty years to obliterate public housing waiting lists, finally end homelessness, and ensure everyone has a roof over their head.”

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Budget 2021 backs jobs, mental health and farmers in Queensland but misses support for social housing and tourism


But like so many others facing the regional rental crisis, the budget has provided no new hope for the central Queensland family-of-seven’s need for long-term accommodation.

“When you’ve got children and looking at remnants of a house packed up in containers and boxes, it’s sad for us,” Ms Bath said. 

The family has been forced to live with relatives while they wait for an affordable rental or social housing.

Ms Bath said she had been approved for social housing about three months ago but has been told there was a nine-year waitlist.  

“I was willing to put seven people in a two-bedroom flat, that’s how bad it is,” she said. 

“Like who has got $650 a week to rent a home?” 

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CBA keeping close eye on housing investor loans as profits surge to $2.4b


Commonwealth Bank chief executive Matt Comyn says he would be wary about any resurgence in speculative borrowing by property investors, even though lending standards have so far remained strong as house prices have taken off.

As a stronger economy drove CBA’s first quarter profits sharply higher to $2.4 billion, Mr Comyn also said the bank had more than $10 billion in surplus capital, and its board could consider its capital management options. Analysts expect it will launch a major share buyback.

Commonwealth Bank chief executive Matt Comyn. The bank said it had expanded in home loans, business loans, and deposits at a faster pace than the industry average during the quarter.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Banks are benefiting from the housing boom as loan growth accelerates, and Mr Comyn on Wednesday sought to hose down concerns about the market overheating, by emphasising the differences between now and the investor-led boom of the last decade.

Mr Comyn said the bank had experienced strong demand from first home buyers and owner-occupiers, and he re-affirmed the lender’s expectation for price growth of about 10 per cent this year and 6 to 8 per cent next year. Mr Comyn said the state of the market was not concerning to CBA, but this could change if investor credit took off.

“Where it would become more concerning was if it was becoming concentrated in certain markets, more investor-driven, more speculation-driven, versus very clear incentives that are in place for good reasons to attract first home buyers to the market,” Mr Comyn said.

“We think credit quality, credit standards across the industry, are not deteriorating, and we don’t expect them to.

“If credit growth starts to rapidly accelerate combined with investor lending increasing, that would certainly give cause for concern, but we revisit all of our settings and go through all of the detail about what we’re seeing every month.”

Figures earlier this month showed a 12.7 per cent lift in new property investor loans in March, as new lending to first home buyers fell for the second month in a row. Mr Comyn said investor applications for loans from CBA had picked up, and the bank was “watching closely on a very targeted basis,” as this was a risk factor.

Mr Comyn praised the fiscal stimulus unveiled in Tuesday night’s budget, including an extension of $20.7 billion in business tax breaks, which he said would support a further lift in business investment.

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Housing affordability crisis: Could tiny towns of tiny homes in caravan parks help?


Australia may have fallen in love with tiny houses, but could tiny towns of tiny houses help provide a solution to the country’s crippling home affordability crisis?

One developer is currently buying up old caravan parks in Victoria – with plans to expand into other states – and replacing older caravans with architect-designed, newly made tiny houses in the overhauled, reconfigured parks.

At the same time, a construction company is planning a pop-up rural village of tiny homes in an experiment being put to councils along the east coast of NSW as homes for young people, retirees on fixed incomes and those in need of cheaper housing.

At a time of both record-high house rents and prices, both schemes are aimed at providing homes for those on the bottom rung of the property ladder.

“It makes perfect sense,” said developer Lei Feng, director of Preer Property Group, who’s so far bought six caravan parks in metropolitan Melbourne areas like Rosebud, Pakenham and Cranbourne, and is currently negotiating on three more.

“We have 2481 caravan parks in Australia and 90 per cent of people in the ones that aren’t just for holidaymakers are permanent residents. Some are living there 20 to 30 years. Historically, many of the parks are run-down and owned by mum-and-dad operators, so they’re ripe for conversion.”

Developer Lei Feng is replacing caravans with tiny homes.
Developer Lei Feng is replacing caravans with tiny homes. Photo: Preer Property Group

He came up with the scheme of investors buying the parks and then improving the housing there for either sale or rent after visiting the US and discovering that 24 million people live permanently in trailer parks. Here, the 2016 Census found 10,685 are long-term caravan park dwellers.

His tiny 40-square-metre houses are built in China for $100,000 to $120,000 and installed in the parks either for sale or for rent at around $250 a week for a two or three-bedroom dwelling. This, he points out, is about half the cost of a regular home.

“It’s a financial model that works for investors and provides decent value and helps people with affordable housing issues,” he said.

“It doesn’t help to just throw more funds at people; this is about looking after the people who are running out of options. The roll-out is improving the quality of their lives with properly planned space between houses, and they’re beautifully designed with a small footprint but real luxury with a double-roof height, floorboards and open-plan living.”

Developer Lei Feng is replacing caravans with tiny homes.
Tiny homes could be another option for caravan residents. Photo: Preer Property Group

Meanwhile, construction company Ieshahomes has an application lodged with the Coffs Harbour City Council on the NSW Mid North Coast to build a pilot pop-up village of tiny houses on a rent-to-buy basis that will give people a foothold in the property market.

Company director Jon Benelle is himself homeless, and lives in his car on the riverbank in Belligen. He came up with the scheme after eight years of building regular houses in both Australia and New Zealand, but seeing an acute shortage of affordable homes to either rent or buy on the NSW coast.

Now he has a Development Application being considered to place 68 Australian-designed and -made sustainable, fire and cyclone-rated tiny houses in a manufactured village on eight hectares of rural land near Nymboida, 44 kilometres south-west of Grafton. If that goes ahead, he has plans to build seven more between the Central Coast and the Gold Coast, and then expand further afield.

Ieshahomes granny flat. Tiny homes.
Ieshahomes hopes to build tiny houses in northern NSW. Photo: Ieshahomes

“If successful, the world’s most modern pop-up village will be showcased to Australia and to the international market,” said Mr Benelle. “They’re environmentally sound homes that could be the answer for the homeless, the van people, the elderly, the young and anyone who’s having trouble finding a home.

“This is a game-changer to help solve the rental and affordability crisis. We’ve had applications already from people interested in living in the manufactured village and we’ve had interest from several other east-coast councils. We then plan to roll out this idea throughout Australia and then New Zealand and we’re also talking to Austrade about taking it to England, too.”

Both projects are aimed at creating more affordable housing, although Mr Feng’s project also plans to provide a sizeable yield to investors of eight to 10 per cent per annum. With so many caravan parks having spare, unused land, reconfiguring the parks “can easily achieve an increase of $150,000 of additional revenue within the first year”, Mr Feng said.

Ieshahomes kitchen. Tiny homes.
An example Ieshahomes kitchen. Photo: Ieshahomes

Experts say fears of a whole new underclass of people being created living in these caravan parks are baseless – at a time when so many already live in parks.

Urban planner Peter Phibbs of the University of Sydney’s School of Architecture, Design and Planning said his main concerns lay with the security of tenure of residents.

“The thing about the market at the moment is that people at the bottom on incomes like pensions and benefits have very few options,” Professor Phibbs said. “So a caravan park is an option, and often a pretty affordable one.

“Unless people are being kicked out or prices are being put up, then improving the parks in this way would probably be a good thing. And I know if the alternative was living in a car, I’d choose a caravan park.”

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Controversial former Sydney housing block in luxury makeover


A prominent Sydney landmark, derided by some as being one of Australia’s ugliest buildings, is on the cusp of a $150 million revamp.

Developers have said they intend to “retain, restore and re-imagine” the Sirius building which sits alongside the southern approach to the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the suburb of The Rocks.

The concrete, Lego-like former public housing block, which overlooks the harbour, has long been divisive.

Built in 1979, fans lauded Sirius as a distinctive example of Australian brutalist architecture and a reminder of The Rocks’ working class heritage. But detractors called it an ugly carbuncle that spoiled the harbour foreshore and should be replaced with a modern creation.

The building was almost pulled down after the NSW Government refused to heritage list the structure in 2017. Just last year, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet put Sirius in the top 10 of buildings he’d happily demolish.

RELATED: Brutal or beautiful? The battle to save Sydney’s Sirius building

Luxury makeover for Sirius block

The building was saved when JDH Capital, the firm of former Macquarie banker Jean-Dominique Huynh bought it for $150 million in 2019.

The company has now released further information about its plans for Sirius.

Internal walls that hem in the current cramped flats will be ripped out to build 76 new apartments.

Gardens will pepper the many roof areas alongside infinity pools with Opera House vistas. A marble clad reception will greet residents.

Seven penthouse apartments will go on the market for $12 million, quite the hike on the charge to public housing tenants. One bedroom flats are expected to go for $1.7 million a piece.

“It has so many attributes – fantastic views, looking right at the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, the city and out to the Heads,” JDH Capital’s development director John Green told The Australian.

“It was also long and slim, so I knew once we had arranged the apartments internally we could get front and back crossflow apartments – it is rare to have windows on both sides.”

Sirius threatened with demolition

Sirius was built in 1979 to house displaced public housing tenants from elsewhere in the tourist mecca of The Rocks as gentrification took hold.

It was ahead of its time. Richly designed community spaces were built in, all flats had access to the outdoors, palms lined rooftop gardens and units for elderly residents sported alarm bells to ensure help could come quickly.

But by the late 2010s it had come to be seen by many as an unnecessary eyesore rearing up on motorists as they crossed the Harbour Bridge into the CBD.

By 2017, only two residents remained in Sirius. The magnificence of her Opera House view was lost on 91-year-old Myra Demetriou.

“I’m blind, so I’m lucky if I can make out a ship,” she told news.com.au at the time.

The NSW Government’s denial of heritage listing Sirius put it at serious risk of demolition.

“Whatever its heritage value, that value is greatly outweighed by what would be a huge loss of extra funds from the sale of the site,” then NSW Environment and Heritage Minister Mark Speakman said in 2016.

It kicked off a vigorous campaign to save the building which including Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore among its many supporters.

RELATED: Concrete classics under threat, but are they worth saving?

‘We learn to love these buildings’

Sirius backers conceded the building was confronting.

“Sirius is a bit like Madonna; people either love it or they hate it, but at least they notice it,” Shaun Carter, the former NSW president of the Australian Institute of Architects and the head of the Save our Sirius campaign told news.com.au.

“I used to see it when crossing the Harbour Bridge. I would sit on my dad’s knee when he was driving and I’d see it as we came into the city. It was one of the buildings that made me fall in love with architecture.”

Mr Carter compared Sirius to Sydney’s much-loved Queen Victoria Building, which in the 1960s was itself threatened with demolition to be replaced with a car park.

“The only way we knew how to value these buildings was through a financial model and a car park stacked up pretty well,” he said.

“I get that to try and understand brutalism is a struggle because it’s not the architectural orthodoxy. But these buildings have grand gestures, they are like medieval castles built as utilitarian structures.

“If we spend time with these buildings, like the QVB, we can learn to love them all over again.”

Mr Carter said if Sirius wasn’t saved there would have been no guarantee an architectural masterpiece would have replaced it.

“Be careful what you wish for because we could get another Meriton block.”

The first of the new generation of Sirius tenants are due to move in next year.

News.com.au contacted Save our Sirius for the group’s view of the development of the building it fought so hard to save.

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