PHOTO:  Opal Tower, Sydney Olympic Park 

Seeking Tenants for Opal Tower Investment Apartments Linked to Late Interior Decorator Garth Barnett’s Estate

The estate executors of the late interior decorator Garth Barnett are in search of tenants for their investment apartments in Opal Tower, Sydney Olympic Park. These high-rise properties were acquired in early 2021, approximately two years after the tower’s structural issues came to light.

The purpose behind these investments was to generate income that would fund Garth Barnett scholarships for students pursuing a Bachelor of Design in Interior Architecture. These scholarships, offered by the University of Technology Sydney in memory of the self-taught designer and mentor who passed away suddenly in 2015, range from $15,000 to $24,000 disbursed over two years.

Among the apartments, the most expensive one is unit 3403/1 Brushbox St, featuring two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a study. It was purchased for $1.08 million and is now available for rent at $820 per week through Waterpoint Asset Management, marking an increase from its previous rent of $570 per week in late 2021. Another apartment, 3205/1 Brushbox St, boasting one bedroom plus a study, was bought for $688,000 and is being offered for rent at $675 per week, up from $450 per week in late 2020.

These properties acquired by the Barnett estate are notable sales in the wake of the tower’s structural concerns. They were both acquired from Ecove, the building’s developer directed by Bassam Aflak, who also serves as a trustee for the Garth Barnett scholarships.

Executors of the late interior decorator Garth Barnett have been seeking tenants for both their Opal Tower, Sydney Olympic Park investment apartments. Picture:

The Opal Tower evacuation on Christmas Eve 2018 was a turning point that led to ongoing efforts by successive New South Wales state governments to improve strata building construction standards. Even after five years, the original property owners continue to face challenges in terms of resale prices. Only one sale has been recorded this year, involving a three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment on the 22nd floor. While the exact selling price hasn’t been disclosed, the seller was seeking $1,075,000 last month. This is a significant decline from the $1.61 million paid off-plan in 2014, possibly representing the largest price drop within the infamous building.

In December of the previous year, another substantial loss was observed when a three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment on the 23rd floor sold for $1 million. This was considerably lower than its initial off-plan sale price of $1.48 million in 2014. The 87-square-meter unit remained on the market for nearly a year. The only instance of a profitable sale was recorded in 2019 when a damaged apartment on the 10th floor was purchased by the builder, Icon Co. This sale price of $950,000 exceeded the $742,000 paid in 2014.

Similar to the Barnett apartments, recent rental trends indicate an improvement in rental incomes for landlords who have faced challenges due to the tower’s history.”