BRW RICH-LISTERS and poultry kings the Baiada family are targeting the surging demand for housing in Sydney's outer suburbs with the launch of a $4 billion master-planned housing estate in Box Hill in the city's north-west.
The imminent launch of stage one of The Gables, a 330-hectare former rural estate near Rouse Hill, about 45 kilometres northwest of Sydney, marks the family's first step to unlock the billions of dollars in potential value in its massive land bank, which, over more than a decade, has grown to more than 20,000 residential lots, and a mix of industrial, retail, commercial and high-density sites in NSW and Queensland.
BRW estimated the Baiada family fortune at $523 million last year. It was built around a poultry business dating back to the 1950s and incorporating brands such as Steggles and Lilydale.
The launch of The Gables came as a Sydney-led housing boom sent residential lot prices soaring 20 per cent or more in the city's outer-western suburbs, according to Fairfax-owned Domain Group.
Another of the family's development projects, the 280-hectare Sydney Science Park near Penrith, modelled on California's Silicon Valley, was also a step closer after the $5 billion project received approval from NSW planning minister Rob Stokes to proceed to the next stage of its development.
John Vassallo, chief executive of Celestino, the family's property development arm (formerly called EJC Corporate Services and named after founder Celestino Baiada) said marketing of the Gables started about six weeks ago with the first registrations of interest taken.
A development application for the first stage of the estate has been submitted with the release of the first 300 lots expected to occur in the next couple of months, Mr Vassallo said.
Development works at the estate would begin in the first half of 2016 with plans for a 5.5-hectare town centre and a school on the site, and a large lake, with the project expected to run for between 10 and 12 years.
Mr Vassallo, a former Blacktown conveyancing lawyer and self-described "Western Sydney boy", said Western Sydney would benefit greatly from the investment in infrastructure and transport, including the building of the North West Rail Link, which will provide express trains to the city by 2019.
He said a 10-minute bus ride would take residents to the new rapid transit station at Rouse Hill and into the city, once completed.
Mr Vassallo said homes in The Gables would be "competitively priced" but declined to give a starting price for the stage one release of lots, which would range in size from 450 and 540 square metres.
"It will be a premium community in the Hills District aimed at making housing affordable to young families. It will have a real diversity of product ranging from half-acre lots to townhouses and apartments."
Celestino has appointed architects Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp to design the first 10-hectare precinct in its $5 billion Sydney Science Park. Mr Vassallo said Baiada would open new poultry laboratories on the site by 2017 with the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta to build a Science and Maths school on the site to open in 2019.