Vaucluse property: The great sprawl of China as developer seeks to combine two luxury homes

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THE 29-year-old heir to a billion-dollar Chinese property empire wants to rip up one of Australia’s most exclusive ­estates to expand his historic Vaucluse mega mansion — in a $22-million reno job that would include 14 bedrooms, 18 bathrooms and removing 355 truckloads of dirt.

Shangjin “Jin” Lin has lodged a development proposal for two neighbouring properties in Vaucluse to be transformed into one grand estate. Real estate experts told The Daily Telegraph the renovations would make the estate one of the greatest in Australia.

But it’s also being slammed as “gross and excessive” and a “slap in the face to every Sydneysider caught in the housing affordability crisis”.

The Queens Ave homes were bought for a combined $52 million on New Year’s Eve 2015. Technically they are owned by Mr Lin’s mother Yunhui. The family amassed their fortune by founding property development firm Shenglong — which spans Asia, Europe, UK, North America and Australia.

The patriarch Yi Lin is China’s 92nd richest person, with a net worth last reported at $4.2 billion.

In 2014, Shenglong broadened its business empire in Australia with Jin Lin establishing Aqualand property development in Sydney.

Under Jin Lin’s grand plans for the eastern suburbs properties, a historic seven-bedroom and five-bathroom mansion, Villa Igiea, which sits on 2133 sqm will be restored to all its glory. The property dates back to 1906.

But the neighbouring $5- million six-bedroom, three-bathroom property on 806 sqm will be demolished and rebuilt as a three-storey home. The two properties will then be joined via a basement and shared carpark.

A new pool and infinity spa will be built, as will a 20-seat cinema, with the ambitious renovations to take two years.

The property ­already boasts a ballroom with sweeping views of Sydney Harbour.

The development application includes all first-floor internal walls of the historic property being demolished and reconfigured to provide three new master bedroom suites, each with ensuite and walk-in robe, three further bedrooms and two further bathrooms.

The new mammoth property will have a total of 14 bedrooms and 18 bathrooms and require 355 truckloads of excavations. The works could employ more than 100 people.

The sprawling property would include 14 bedrooms and 18 bathrooms.

The properties were previously owned by Austar Communications entrepreneur Wayne Burt with the historic property reportedly rented for $70,000 a month.

It has played host to stars including Beyonce and Jay-Z, Katy Perry, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Mr Burt bought it in 2005 for $17.34 million from Nicky McWilliam, wife of Seven Network commercial director Bruce McWilliam, and Dr Burt then acquired the neighbouring property.

The historic home was sold to the Jins for $47 million along with the neighbouring home for $5 million.

Real estate expert Brad Pillinger has handled the last three sales of the historic home.

“(The proposed development) will be amazing. Having spent $52 million on the purchase and then $20 million on the renovation it will be, if not the best, one of the best properties in Australia,” Mr Pillinger said.

He said the previous owner, Dr Burt, also had similar dreams for the properties to be combined.

“It’s not an unusual thing to do (combining them), it’s just a completely rare opportunity given the quality of the property,” he said.

But Mr Lin’s ambitious plans rest in the hands of the Sydney Central Planning Panel who will assess the application in September.

At a council meeting on Monday, the development proposal was voted down, but because the renovations are worth so much money it must go for review before the panel.

The council did not support the application for reasons ­including it breached maximum height, excessive excavation, and maximum number of car parking spaces.

They also said it was not in the public interest.

Mr Lin declined to comment when contacted by The Daily Telegraph.

Woollahra councillor Matthew Robertson said the planned renovation was “gross and excessive”.

“Woollahra Council has sent a strong anti-overdevelopment message to the Sydney Central Planning Panel,” the Greens councillor said.

“The sheer cost of works for this proposal is a slap in the face to every Sydneysider caught in the housing affordability crisis.”

By ROSE BRENNAN
The Daily Telegraph

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