Stockland goes after old money in Melbourne

by Maurice Dunlevy
July 08, 2008

STOCKLAND has made a foray into the five-star Melbourne retirement market, paying $34.2 million for two properties in well-to-do Kew and Hawthorn.

The Rylands-branded properties were bought from high-profile Melbourne developer and adventurer Richard Buxton, who entered the retirement business several years ago after seeking care for his elderly father.

Disappointed with what he saw, his Buxton Group decided to create its own luxury accommodation in a venture with his daughter, Samantha.

Part of a Melbourne property dynasty spanning 150 years, Mr Buxton is the brother of Michael and Andrew Buxton who control Melbourne’s MAB Corp.

He is also a well known adventurer, most recently sailing around Australia.

Mr Buxton could not be contacted yesterday, but according to Stockland its purchase represented a move into the medium-density, apartment-style retirement market.

“There is growing demand for higher-quality, innovative living options, and Rylands has built a strong platform in this space,” said Stockland retirement division general manager Michael Eggington.

He said Stockland would retain the Rylands name and brand, and had engaged Mr Buxton and his daughter to assist in the integration of the business -- and the expansion of the Rylands model -- into Stockland.

The two recently completed apartment-style retirement villages were targeted at wealthy retirees.

At the Hawthorn property, prices start at $500,000, with the penthouse costing $1.25 million.

With 3445 units across Victoria and Queensland, and 3800 more in development, Stockland is a top-five retirement village operator. That position was consolidated in February last year when Stockland paid $329 million for the Australian Retirement Communities retirement living business.

The ARC portfolio consisted of 17 villages, three under construction and a development pipeline of six properties.