Founded by Lang Walker and his father Alec in 1964, Walker Corporation, as we are known today, started life as A&L Walker, a contractor specialising in earth moving and excavation to deliver foundation materials for major infrastructure works.
Once established, Lang and Alec started to consider the next logical step and decided to try their hand at a small-scale development. Starting with the purchase of some small, problematic housing lots from Parkes Development; Lang and Alec identified the opportunity to re-engineer the composition to create well-presented and landscaped easy to build lots with driveways to, attract first time homebuyers. The restructured lots sold for three times the purchase price.
This project earmarked the start of many more residential developments. Father and son started searching for opportunities to acquire large blocks of land in order to landscape lots and design houses, drawing on the experience of leading architects. Before long an increasing number of buyers started to seek out our now famous quarter-acre lots. In addition to our new found knack for small land subdivision developments, Lang and Alec leased their quarry in Sandy Point, in Sydney’s south. The excavated stone was supplied for road base projects across the city. All materials derived from the quarry were either re-cycled or sold-on.
With six years’ civil engineering and excavation experience Lang and Alec acquired two new quarries in Sydney, re-cycling all dug-up materials. At their peak, the three sites generated 10,000 tonnes of road base each day which supplied the many major road and infrastructure projects initiated by the Whitlam Government stimulus programmes and Councils.
In 1972 Lang Walker founded The Walker Group. Soon after we expanded our development arm of the business into the Sutherland Shire of Sydney, creating small-scale, strata titled industrial and commercial centres for small to medium sized businesses. As a result of expansion and our renewed direction, Lang and Alec decided to whole-heartedly focus on residential and industrial projects in the late 1970’s. Soon after we sold our three quarries which enabled us to concentrate on and fund the development of small apartment buildings and industrial facilities.
The diversity and scale of developments grew organically at a rapid pace, and in the early 1980’s we developed an eight storey apartment tower in Cronulla. Shortly after, we branched out geographically into new states and sectors, securing a major earthworks and civil engineering contract to renew the runway at Brisbane Airport, Queensland.
Around mid-1980, we pushed the boundaries of our present capabilities with the creation of an ambitious 1,000 lot sub-division in Menai, Sydney. Following this we acquired, merged and rezoned land in Mascot, now known as the Sydney Airport Centre; constructing two office towers which became the Airport headquarters for Qantas.
By the late 1980’s we had diversified our portfolio to encompass industrial, commercial, and residential developments, together with civil engineering projects in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. In 1988, The Walker Group was officially named Walker Corporation Pty Limited.
After two decades of property development and civil engineering, we sold a series of completed assets at the end of 1980’s just before a severe recession hit. As a result, we entered a new decade cash rich at a time when many in the industry were suffering due to high interest rates and subdued activity.
With a secure bankroll and Lang’s aspirations to turn big dreams into a reality, we joined the Australian Securities Exchange in 1994. At this stage, we had more than $2 billion worth of projects underway and the family holding held almost 50% of the public entities.
Our new found backing saw us deliver some of our most impressive and iconic developments to date in terms of scale and amenity. We introduced a mixed-use approach for large-scale commercial, retail and residential developments. This proved highly successful and we continue be known for and execute this methodology today. Major projects delivered included the Wharf at Woolloomooloo, Broadway Shopping Centre, King Street Wharf, in addition to student housing in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney.
By the end of the busiest decade to date, Lang had sold his shares to Australand Holdings Limited to focus on running his private company – McRoss Developments Pty Ltd, while reserving the rights to reuse the Walker Corporation name after January 2003.
Commencing the decade in a position of strength – having resumed total control of operations, we continued to thrive through a mixture of organic growth, procurements and divestments; starting with the acquisition of Hope Island Resort in Queensland, which today houses more than 2,000 families in luxury, resort style living.
In early 2000 we completed a diverse range of projects, beginning with the reformation, ownership and management of the landmark heritage building – Broadway Shopping Centre; the reinvigoration of Georges Department Store in Melbourne including a new masterplan and retail proposition; and creation of industrial sites for ACI and Smorgon in Sydney, as well as introducing student housing in Ultimo.
As our expertise and experience evolved, Lang continued to seek out more diverse and challenging projects to continue to push the boundaries of what had previously been achieved. His ambition was the catalyst for the largest private development in Australian history – the transformation of the entire Rhodes Peninsula in Sydney’s inner-west, known today as Rhodes Waterside.
With a pipeline of over 20 projects across retail, commercial, residential and industrial, Lang decided to sell $1.45 billion worth of assets to Mirvac in 2006. This provided the capital for further expansion of our portfolio during the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), placing us in an advantageous position and laying the foundations for international expansion. In 2008 we commenced a major mixed-use master planned community in Malaysia, Senibong Cove. Situated across 213 acres, this waterfront land in Johor Bahru will eventually comprise 25,000 homes.
Despite the lingering impact of the GFC, we ambitiously embarked on what was the largest mixed-use commercial development in Australia at the time (now the second largest after Barangaroo). Collins Square in Melbourne’s western CBD is a six tower commercial office, retail, and entertainment precinct, incorporating the renovated southern portion of the historic Goods Shed.
We continue to develop projects in the commercial, industrial, residential, retail and resort sectors across all mainland states in Australia, and internationally. Senibong Cove continues to expand, driven by a demand for affordable housing in neighbouring Singapore.
Most recently, in 2015, we secured two major contracts to redevelop and revive both Adelaide city centre and Parramatta city centre. Adelaide Square, known as Festival Plaza, will see us invest $430 million to transform Adelaide city as we know it. Shortly after securing Adelaide Square, we secured the contract as the leading developer for the $2 billion Parramatta Square city centre redevelopment.
Our future development and construction pipeline includes 40,000 lots of land to be delivered across our many communities by 2020, 11 commercial towers, 25,000 new homes, 6,000 apartments across Australia, and 300 hectares of industrial land nationwide, with major projects in ACT, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, Malaysia and Fiji.
As we built our expertise, we diversified both geographically and across project type, taking on commercial, residential, retail and industrial projects stretching across six states and territories.