Developer Don O’Rorke: ‘Get Ready for the Boom of 2020’


Consolidated Properties Group has developed pretty much everything, from billion-dollar urban renewal projects to CBD high-rise towers. The group even has plans for a $100 million-plus surf park on the Sunshine Coast.

The Brisbane-based development company, led by Don O’Rorke, has a workbook of more than $2.1 billion in the pipeline, including the $850 million 14-hectare Yeerongpilly urban renewal project, and a $250 million office tower in Fortitude Valley, which was green-lit for approval last year.

And with more than 40-years in the development game and a close working relationship with another Queensland heavyweight, and school pal, Scott Hutchinson, we caught up with the surf-keen CEO Don O’Rorke, who will be speaking at The Urban Developer’s residential development summit on Friday March 27 in Brisbane.

▲ Consolidated Properties and CVS Lane Capital Partners last year unveiled the $850 million Yeerongpilly urban renewal precinct located in inner Brisbane. Don O’Rorke
▲ Consolidated Properties and CVS Lane Capital Partners last year unveiled the $850 million Yeerongpilly urban renewal precinct located in inner Brisbane.

You forged an early partnership with Scott Hutchinson, chairman of one of Australia’s largest construction companies. The hallmark of CPG is built off the strength of your relationships, which spans customers, government, project partners, and financiers. How do you maintain close working relationships amid business pressures?

One of our core philosophies is that we are happy to pay a dollar for a dollar’s worth of work. In turn, Scott expects to be able to make a fair, but not excessive, margin from his work so in that sense we’re both aligned in terms of pricing the work. We also have a mature and informed attitude about describing exactly what outcomes we want from the construction process so that Scott’s team knows exactly what to price.

We also want Hutchies to succeed and our team is there to help make sure we achieve our mutual goals.

On a personal level, Scott and I very rarely talk about our construction work—these discussions are held with his relevant geographic teams and our development managers. So our discussions are largely around friendship issues and not work issues.

Is now a good time to be in the property industry?

Queensland is a tremendous place to be in the property industry as it is a high population growth destination, and that growth provides the demand for real estate products across the whole spectrum.

Architecture, construction, sustainability, demographic shifts, capital market innovations, and transaction size, to name a few characteristics that are combining to make the sector a really interesting and fun space to be in.

Don O’Rorke
▲ Consolidated Properties recently celebrated 40 years in the property industry.

Given your knack for spotting a property deal, how is the climate for development opportunities in Brisbane?

The overall market is obviously made up from a series of smaller markets including office, retail, residential (and within those segments, many subsegments). But broadly speaking, Queensland is enjoying population and economic growth and these are the principle demand drivers for products across each of those segments.

From our viewpoint, we are undertaking a new 22,000sq m office building, to satisfy clearly demonstrated demand for office space, as we did with our Aurizon project at 900 Ann Street.

We have just settled on the Great Western Super Centre in Keperra [for $84.5million], which satisfies demand from our retailer customer base for outlets.

Interest rates are trending down still and this will force up the value of any real estate asset across all of the sectors that has a demonstrated long term cash flow. Get ready for the boom of 2020!

▲ Don O’Rorke, who has plans to deliver a Surf Ranch with the WSL, takes weekly surfs and two trips to the Indonesian archipelago each year.
▲ O’Rorke, who has plans to deliver a Surf Ranch with the WSL, takes weekly surfs and two trips to the Indonesian archipelago each year.

You know how to close a deal. After more than 40-years in the industry, what is your secret to ensuring a property deal goes your way?

I believe it’s important to stand in the other person’s shoes and have empathy around what their needs are. If I understand their needs, I can then properly tailor an outcome that meets their needs and also our own.

We are very much a customer-focused business, and if we are satisfying our customer’s needs we can build a viable transaction around that.

The art of the deal is to understand the drivers around this transaction and look to closing out that transaction as soon as practically possible.

▲ He’s one of Queensland’s most successful developers. Don O’Rorke pictured with Hutchies chairman Scott Hutchinson.
▲ Pictured with Hutchies chairman and long-time pal Scott Hutchinson.

You’re a life member of Surfing Australia, as well as a keen surfer since testing the waves at age 10. After forging a partnership with the World Surf League, how are the plans going for the Coolum Surf Ranch?

We’re continuing discussions with government about the best pathway for approval.

WSL is keenly awaiting this approval as it wants to have the first Kelly Slater Wave Pool outside the United States open as soon as possible.

Surfing will be highlighted at the summer Olympic Games this year in Japan and will obviously be a focus in Queensland’s bid for the 2032 Olympics.

The Kelly Slater Wave Pool will be a great piece of inventory in Queensland not only winning the bid, but providing training and competition facilities when the games are on.

Don O'Rorke was originally scheduled to appear at The Urban Developer's Residential Development Summit as a keynote speaker.

Unfortunately, due to the escalating health situation caused by the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), The Urban Developer has made the difficult decision to postpone this event series.

For statements and information about upcoming events, please visit our events page.

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