Welcome to Tinkler Town – perhaps that’s how the signs on the outskirts of Newcastle will soon read.
The mining magnate Nathan Tinkler owns part of a company negotiating to buy a large chunk of the city’s business district.
That is on top of the billionaire owning the Newcastle Knights rugby league and Newcastle Jets football franchises – the premier sporting outfits in the state’s second largest city – as well as one of the nation’s largest horse-racing operations.
Mr Tinkler, 35, is a shareholder in the development company Buildev, which is finalising a deal to take over substantial landholdings owned by The GPT Group in and around the Hunter Street Mall, which is the city’s main street.
Buildev has also tabled plans for a $1.5 billion coal loader on the former Newcastle BHP steelworks site and several other multimillion-dollar developments in the Hunter.
Mr Tinkler wants to build the city’s most expensive home – a $13.3 million mansion overlooking Merewether Beach – and a $12.9 million hangar at Newcastle Airport capable of housing a Boeing 737 and other aircraft.
Representatives of Buildev, GPT and the selling agents CB Richard Ellis are bound by confidentiality agreements and would not confirm or deny yesterday that a deal had been struck on buildings straddling two city blocks.
The stakeholders are in a cooling off period.
The properties in question, covering 18,254 square metres between Perkins and Newcomen streets, are only a drop-kick from the harbour.
A public announcement is not expected until June, when details of the transaction are finalised pending satisfactory due diligence.
Sources confirmed that Buildev had plans for a mixed-use development of the site that would include retail, hotel, commercial and entertainment precincts aimed at revitalising the city centre.
GPT withdrew plans for a $600 million CBD development in August and blamed the state Labor government’s inaction over the controversial rail line for its decision.
The government has changed, prompting renewed interest from Buildev.
Its managing director, David Sharpe, declined to comment.
GPT spent about $100 million acquiring the property. Initially it said it would not sell the eight lots to a single buyer to protect itself against retail rivals, but that clause has been removed.
Source: SMH, http://www.smh.com.au/executive-style/luxury/with-the-football-teams-in-his-pocket-billionaire-eyes-cbd-20110426-1dv7t.html