The Australian

Mega rich are digging deep to make their mark with mansions

With 24 toilets, a two-lane bowling alley, three internal lifts, a 28-car garage and a 20m tunnel leading from the waterfront, a $30 million mansion under construction for a family of five in Sydney is defying an increasingly bearish economic outlook.
In Melbourne, soft-drink scion Harry Stamoulis is set to demolish a Baillieu family home on one of Australia’s wealthiest streets to build a 4088sqm house.

The developments prove one thing: Australia’s premium housing market is alive and kicking — it’s just that most of its backers are keeping as low a profile as possible as opposed to the ostentatious displays of wealth of before the global financial crisis.

In Sydney, billionaire James Packer is quietly planning a $13m two-storey guesthouse to adjoin the $18m Vaucluse mansion he recently bought. The 24-toilet $30m mansion in Sydney’s south being built by little-known aviation entrepreneur Steve Shelley could rival Packer’s compound. His near neighbours at the Burraneer property include cricketers Ricky Ponting and Glenn McGrath. Detractors say the house is too big an investment for the Sutherland Shire. But Shelley is pressing ahead with the eight-bedroom, 16-bathroom mansion. He recently sold his aviation services company, Aero-Care, which employs 1400 staff across 17 airports, saying he had chosen southern Sydney for his dream mansion instead of Sydney’s trendier eastern suburbs. “I am a Shire boy.” There have been knockers, according to the mansion’s builder, Alan Sammut. “People have asked him (Steve) why he is spending so much money in the Shire. But he is passionate about the area.” Shelley consolidated three waterfront blocks totalling 4500sq m at a cost of more than $8 million. He estimates the ambitious four-level mansion featuring a mini-day spa, two swimming pools, a sunken teppanyaki bar and fire pit, will take two years to complete. A 20m tunnel will connect the Burraneer Bay waterfront to the house. Shelley’s latest venture is a new human resources and people management product called

In Melbourne, contracts have been signed for Krongold Constructions to build a Grecian-themed palace for Stamoulis at 39 St Georges Road, Toorak. Stamoulis paid $25m in 2010 for the site, which he bought from the Inge family. While Bruce Henderson architects are keeping the plans for the building under wraps, Krongold Constructions is renowned for building the near-impossible — including a house made entirely of zinc for the publisher of The Monthly, property developer Morry Schwartz, and his artist wife Anna in the inner-city suburb of Carlton. According to the builders, Schwartz’s house had to be rubbed down with baby oil to remove the builder’s fingerprints from the soft metal.