Entertainment Quarter sold to Singleton, Harvey, Carnegie

5 June 2014
The Sydney Morning Herald
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Investors John Singleton, Gerry Harvey and Mark Carnegie have branched out of pubs with an $80 million deal to buy the Entertainment Quarter at Moore Park.

Mr Harvey told BusinessDay that the potential for redevelopment was "endless".

"Myself, John Singleton, Katie Page and Mark Carnegie visited it a couple of times and realised it was hard to get 11 hectares with development opportunities and its location anywhere else in Sydney," Mr Harvey said.

"If you accept it should be done and could be done, we all said, why can't it be done?"

He said it was a matter of creating a place with ambience and also involving the community.

"There is about 26,000 square metres that can be redeveloped and we will look at all options, including a hotel, pubs, serviced apartments and an updated retail sector," Mr Harvey said. "We would also involve the film and television school and feed off it."

Agents had said initially the Entertainment Quarter site was valued at about $63 million. It is understood the high-profile businessmen beat a number of developers to the property.

The entertainment and sports precinct, near to the Sydney CBD, has now been revamped and separated from the Fox Studio film sets.

However, the 11.08 hectare site still has a mix of some sound studios, the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, the Bent Street retail shops and the showring from its former life as the Sydney Showground.

The opportunity to upgrade the retail and entertainment area was the main attraction for the buyers.

It was sold by the CFS Retail Property Trust and its associated unlisted trust, a decade after being bought from Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation and the developer, Lend Lease.

Michael Gorman, deputy chief executive and chief investment officer at CFS, said the sale of the property was in line with the group's strategy of divesting non-core assets.

"The sale remains conditional on the approval of the ground lessor and the relevant NSW state government consent authority," Mr Gorman said.

Together, Lend Lease and News Corp's Fox Entertainment Group spent more than $430 million redeveloping the former Sydney Showground site.

But the failure of the much-vaunted Backlot theme park, which included the Titanic ride, led to major losses for both parties.

Lend Lease reported a write-down on the project of more than $145 million after tax. In 2002 it sold its stake in the adjoining film studios to Fox Corp for $10 million.