Article by Larry Schlesinger
Australian Financial Review
Oct 19, 2020 – 4.20pm
A global pandemic has proved no impediment to property developer Tony Denny’s plans to sell down his residential and commercial investments on the NSW Central Coast.
Mr Denny, a former Financial Review Rich Lister and one of the most prominent developers in the region, said he had exchanged contracts on a further two development sites and his former classic car museum in Gosford for a combined $24 million.
This follows the September sale of three project sites in Gosford and Terrigal for more than $15 million after his development firm Central Real put a portfolio of six sites on the market in March as part of plans to greatly scale down its building activities on the Central Coast.
Just one site remains, the 100-apartment Peninsula project under construction in Point Frederick.
This, Mr Denny said, was in advanced sale negotiations with a large Sydney developer with an asking price of $28 million.
“Central Real had originally planned in its cash flow to be fully divested of all sites within three years. The reality looks like all properties will be sold in under 12 months,” Mr Denny said.
The properties that have sold in October include Mr Denny’s former Gosford Classic Car Museum at 3-13 Stockyard Place in West Gosford, which sold for $14.5 million.
The buyer was locally based manufacturer Borg Manufacturing.
A development site at 142-144 Albany Street in Point Frederick with a permit for 37 luxury apartments was purchased by a large developer from Sydney for $7.5 million, and a luxury townhouse site at 11-13 Ena Street in Terrigal sold to a local builder for $2 million.
If the council was run by its competent and intelligent admin staff, the region would be running like a Swiss watch.
— Tony Denny
Mr Denny said Central Real had another $35 million worth of properties for sale that were at different stages of the negotiation process.
His decision in March to sell up his residential and commercial interest on the Central Coast surprised the local business community given his passionate support and promotion of the region, where he has based himself since selling his Prague-based AAA Auto car dealership business in 2014 to Polish private equity firm Abris Capital Partners.
Mr Denny said he was still passionate about the region and its potential. “However, I don’t have the patience for dealing with the local councillors, which ultimately, one way or another, you have to deal with.
“If the council was run by its competent and intelligent admin staff, the region would be running like a Swiss watch, and developers like Central Real would be willing to continue participating in the growth of the region,” he said.
The Central Coast Council was contacted for comment.
Yet another reinvention
Mr Denny’s involvement with the Central Coast won’t end once he sells his last site.
Apart from maintaining a large estate in Killcare on the Bouddi Peninsula, Mr Denny is reinventing himself (yet again) as a real estate financier for local developers.
“Central Real has incorporated a subsidiary called Central Real Capital where the proceeds from their asset disposals will fund loans to developers on the Central Coast and Sydney,” he said.
Since April, CRC has provided $78 million in loans to developers while investing more than $45 million with fund managers such as Balmain and Pallas Capital, which also lend funds to developers.
CRC will open offices in Sydney’s Double Bay in March 2021, and will retain its Central Coast office.
Mr Denny said his aim was to grow the CRC fund to $200 million by the end of 2021, and to $300 million by mid-2023.
“CRC is self funded and has no plans to take in external funds,” he said.