Vaughan Constructions Pty Ltd has been appointed to master-plan and develop two regional Rail Hubs and Business Parks for joint venture partners Colin Rees Group Pty Ltd and Amberly Management Pty Ltd.
Ettamogah Rail Hub,15kms north of Albury on the Hume Hwy, and Widgelli Rail Hub and Business Park,10kms South East of Griffith, NSW are strategically located to support over 500kms of rail branch lines throughout the Riverina.
Ettamogah Rail Hub, owned and operated by rail experts, Colin Rees Group since 2009, will yield over 45,000m2 of warehouse space for lease. Cameron Jackson, Chief Operating Officer for the Colin Rees Group said, “We haven’t pushed the boat out too far to date. We’ve concentrated on the rail operations but the time is right now, with the right partners, to offer more to our customers. The Prelease interest has been encouraging with multiple enquiries on the hub already showing us that the demand is there in regional areas.”
Mr Jackson said the Group intends to retain the investments on the Ettamogah site. It is believed that rents start at approx. $65/m2. “Planning has commenced and we’re looking to break dirt in next 3 to 4 months.”
The Morsheads, a fourth generation Griffith family with broad agricultural interests, joined forces through their Amberley Group with the Colin Rees Group. Widgelli Rail Hub and Business Park is situated on a 68ha site owned by the Morshead family. The first 30ha stage of development at Widgelli will include the design and construction of a new rail hub, rail sidings and over 100,000m2 of warehouse space, hardstands and road networks; a construction value in excess of $80,000,000.
The Widgelli site received Town Planning approval in August last year. The Business Park offers both Prelease and Land and Building packages for warehouse and cold storage buildings ranging from 2,500m2 to 20,000m2 in addition to container rated hardstands.
“There’s a huge variety of potential users of the hubs, so Vaughan’s design solution is flexible to accommodate any business.” Mr Jackson said. The Australian Government Department of Agriculture report released in April 2015, using latest available results, confirmed that in addition to grapes, and tomatoes the Riverina accounted for 96% of the total value of the NSW’s carrots, 74% of the state’s oranges, 59% of the state’s apples and nearly half of the state’s rice production.
Despite many years of advocacy about the benefits of rail, investment in rail and rail associated infrastructure has lagged. “We know that production costs have been squeezed to breaking point, so the focus of many producers, processors, retailers and exporters is the supply chain. We saw a definite gap in the market. So we’ve teamed up with Morsheads and Vaughans and we’re able to offer ‘Short Line’ rail services in addition to conventional warehouse, cold storage and distribution facilities to our customers. Our Regional Connect network can get your box from anywhere in the Riverina to any eastern seaboard port and even Perth via the Junee or Cootamundra connections.”
Short Line Rail has led the revival of rail transport in the United States. It provides the benefits from economies of scale to individual customers by pooling assets and infrastructure in hubs, spreading the costs and providing an economical option to get onto the main line networks.
The development management agreement between the three parties will see Vaughan Constructions roll out the design and construction of warehousing, hardstand areas, container pavements, ancillary offices and rail sidings. Ettamogah is expected to be fully developed within 18 months and the first of two major stages at Widgelli over the next 2 years. Rents and Land/Build rates are expected to be released for Widgelli this month.
“The concept of bringing rail to the customer, similar to the US, is a winner. Our development partners are investing in quality assets with a long term view of the success and viability of rail” Andrew Noble Director and General Manager of Vaughan Constructions said. “It’s also likely to reinvigorate or reopen disused rail links.”
Vaughans has extensive experience in planning and developing estates, including the highly successful Wyndham Industrial Estate located in Melbourne’s Western Industrial precinct. The sixty year old company has serviced some of Australia’s largest and most successful logistics companies nation-wide including Linfox, Asciano, K & S Freighters, Northline and Mainfreight with Prelease and Land and Building packages.
“This is a significant investment for all of us, so we had to have Vaughans on board. We had the land, we had the network and the business model but we needed the development experts. There’s no point providing a second rate offering, the market is smart and cant be taken for granted.” Mr Jackson said “Our offering has to be compelling. I’m confident in the Riverina. As a group of people – Colin Rees Group, Amberley Group and Vaughans, We’re easy to do business with. At the end of the day people also want to deal with decent people.”