Two years ago, well known Shanghai-based developer Chiwayland decided to enter the Australian market.
The company has since acquired numerous sites in Queensland and Sydney and is busy working on a number of mixed-use residential projects, including Illumina in Toowong, Peak at Parramatta and Vivr at Nundah.
The Urban Developer caught up with Tomas Simpson, Chiwayland's National Director of Projects, for a quick chat about why the company headed Down Under and its future plans.
What sparked your interest in property development?
I grew up in a family of architects and was exposed to property developers from a young age with my father also being a Councillor at Mosman. As such, I was also exposed to local politics. I liked the opportunity of making changes to the built environment and creating a better and more efficient place to live.
How did you get your start in the property industry?
I completed a Bachelor of Construction Management Degree at the University of NSW. This put me into construction first where I cut my teeth on building projects, working on site, and then I followed on from there and now head up all the development projects across Australia for Chiwayland.
Chiwayland is planning to build on this site it acquired at 14-20 Parkes Street, Parramatta last year.[/caption]
What is your business philosophy?
Work hard, eliminate risk and deliver a great product.
As a developer, how do you set yourself apart from other companies operating in the same field?
We aim to provide a superior customer experience and to this end employ passionate architects, great builders and a motivated sales team to get the maximum value from our product.
Although Chiwayland is headquartered in Shanghai, the company has decided to focus on the overseas market. What attracted the company to Australia as opposed to other overseas markets?
Chiwayland and Property Solutions' $130 million Illumina Tower at Toowong.[/caption]
We are currently investing in Australia and the United States. These were attractive to us due to the stability of these markets. Australia was attractive due to its rapid urbanisation and the opportunity to apply similar principles that we have implemented in China of developing medium to high density residential projects located close to transport nodes. This principle is applied in all of our projects.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in the Australian property industry?
The challenges we face are trying to streamline the approval process of our applications as this additional time means more cost to the end consumer, affordability of property for the young generation will be the key
Chiwayland has acquired a number of notable sites in Sydney and Brisbane. Can you explain your strategy when you search for new sites? What attributes do you look for in a site?
I recently did a presentation at a mixed use development conference in Melbourne. The title was Transit Oriented Development, we like to apply these principles to the projects we look at.
In fact, recently one of our projects in Brisbane, which we are in joint venture with Property Solutions, Circa Nundah Village, was awarded the Best Urban Renewal project in Australia at the 2016 UDIA National Awards. This was chosen specifically by Chiwayland due to it fitting the ‘Mixed Use TOD’ model that I am discussing today.
The judges’ summation was “Circa Nundah Village has delivered an activated street environment, major commercial floor space in a suburban location, a shopping centre and a series of distinctively designed apartment buildings which are a blueprint for future suburban train station intensification initiatives.”
Chiwayland acquired this $18.6 million landmark site on Victoria Road in Ryde this year.[/caption]
What is your favourite project that you’ve developed and why?
The Double Bay Marina as I love sailing and the water. It involved so many interested groups that it was a challenge to coordinate all these requirements and at the end of the day the project was very sympathetic to the environment in which it is located.
What has been your career highlight?
Leading Business Development in Hong Kong for Lend Lease.
What drives you – has there been someone or something that has inspired your career?
I was inspired by Dick Dusseldorp who set up Lend Lease here in Australia. From what I could read about him, he was a very inspirational person and his ethics and drive have inspired me to lead by example and work hard at what you believe in. Over and over in my life, from experience, I am taught never to compromise your ethics.
This site in Epping at 17-25 Epping Road was acquired by Chiwayland in 2015 with plans to develop a 90-apartment complex.[/caption]
Apart from those by your own company, what do you think are the three best projects in the world at the moment?
HSBC Building Hong Kong
Opera House Sydney
Deutchse Bank Building Phillip Street Sydney
Where do you think the development industry will be five years from now?
I think we will be a lot more sophisticated with a streamlined planning process and plans for a world-class transport network to service our growing urbanised environment, hopefully one as efficient as we can see in China with the high speed rail network servicing all cities with high density mixed-use centres surrounding these transport nodes.