Jonathan Hallinan, Founder and Director of BPM, has over 19 years experience in the property development industry.
The Melbourne-based developer has delivered projects extending from Melbourne’s inner city suburbs through to Queensland’s West End.
How did you get to where you are?
I started as a carpenter, doing an apprenticeship from the age of 19 to 21. While I was doing the apprenticeship, I studied construction management at RMIT. In 1994 when I was 19, I bought my first house and sub-divided the block, renovated the front house and built a unit down the back. It just grew from there. I started doing projects in the outer suburbs and moved into the bayside areas.
What was your role in those first few developments?
I did everything myself, I purchased the sites and worked on the planning permits and also did all of the carpentry work, the framing and fit outs.
Do you think that your construction background has been something that has set you apart in terms of the quality of your developments?
In terms of the final product, yes. In the high-end market you do need that eye for detail. I am still fastidious today. Little things like paint on hinges, lines on plaster work and things like that come from my carpentry days. From a design point of view, those efficiencies come from that carpentry background.
What is your methodology and rationale when entering these projects?
The basis of the business was to create a property portfolio. Looking at the location is always number one, as to whether it is an area that I want to hold long term. We have kept 20% of everything I have ever built. The methodology behind when we are purchasing a site is number one whether I want to hold a substantial amount of that site at the end.
Do you find that the high quality of your property offsets against the rental return and the investment yield on what you’re holding?
If you look at it for an investment on its yield per annum - no. But holding stock in affluent areas, when the market runs in those areas, it goes higher than any other market and then it holds. They can run and hold. So my investments, although they don’t yield well in the high end in Brighton, they’ve done better then my lower end stock in cheaper suburbs. I’ve always looked for a twenty or forty year plan. It’s never been a short term or per annum rental return.
Have you ever been tempted to deviate from your high quality developments?
We have, we are not that brand anymore. That’s what we were but approximately four years ago I started to deviate and move toward the affordable market space and investor space. We are still creating our iconic buildings with beautiful interiors and use the same architects but we are creating an affordable product, which has been a far greater challenge.
What is the process you go through to choose an architect?
It also comes down to my personal taste and if I believe in the aesthetic. Second to that is their ability to deliver. If people buy from us they are buying a BPM product. So it’s about our commitment for brand, quality and standard and that’s what we look for in architecture firm. We want them to be committed to their brand – we find those that do are in it for the long haul.
How do you approach branding, sales and marketing for each development?
I don’t look at the local area of the local market. I look at what BPM is and what we stand for and I am bringing BPM to that market. We are bringing our standard, our architecture and our interior design to that market. We are not suiting our developments to what is there now.
What is exciting you at the moment and what are you passionate about?
That’s a broad question but if you talk about what I am actually most passionate about – we bought a site on the corner of City Road and Clarendon Street in South Bank. It’s going to be 450-unit site, 45 stories, and I think that’s where we can build a landmark site. I think it will be a truly world class and iconic building. That’s where my passion is and my whole career is to create the iconic buildings of Melbourne.
Where do you see BPM in ten years?
Continuing to build these world class and iconic buildings with beautiful interiors and being one of the leaders in the market Australia wide. We are also looking to expand internationally to the west coast of the US in LA, which is of huge interest to us and is a market we hope to be part of in the next few years.
What is the motivation to enter that market?
For similar reasons that we looked at Brisbane. It was an area that had a lot of passion, an appreciation for coffee, wine and food. There is a lot of energy in Brisbane and also LA but there is not a lot of cool, young, inspirational architecture and new apartments. I think there is a lot of opportunity there.
What’s your approach?
We will purchase a project management business or get involved with a company and they will advise us on land.
What is your favorite restaurant?
Tonka in Melbourne
Where is your favorite holiday destination?
What book are you reading at the moment?
'Why We Build' by Rowan Moore. It’s about why property developers build and why we do it.