His specialty areas include medium density and high rise residential development, mixed-use developments, seniors housing and local government law. He is currently working as the Development Manager for Ceerose.
Tell us a little bit about your career in property development to date?
I started almost by accident as a tradie town planner at Gosford City Council. This was a job I took after finding out that I disliked accounting immensely after about six weeks. I took this job in a career that I really knew nothing about. I absolutely fell in love with it though. I really formed my own direction within two and a half years of being there and I went back to university.
I then worked at numerous councils before starting my own company as a consultant town planner. Some of my clients throughout this time included Ceerose, Coles and Wesfarmers.
Take us through the journey so far with Ceerose?
The company was originally founded in 1988 and Eddie (Eddie Doueihi) gathered some properties, caught the right side of the property cycle in the late 90s and then progressed to larger developments.
He was able to ride out the cycle in the mid 2000s with the drop in the property market. I was at Hornsby Shire Council when I met him there, overseeing some of his projects.
I was hard but fair on him and he really respected the relationship that we developed when I left and started my own consultancy firm. From that point we have worked on some brilliant projects and then I went into Ceerose about four years ago.
What do you feel makes Ceerose unique as a business?
It’s the ability to fully integrate the different levels of property development and construction so that as we develop properties and assist our clients to develop, we are able to give input into those initial stages.
Then the design and the build are incorporated through the whole process. It’s about having an understanding the whole way through, from the feasibility of the sites through to the delivery of the design, approval by council and then through to the marketing and sales of the product.
How important is a vertically integrated business model to achieving premium quality developments?
To us it’s paramount and that’s the reason we structure our model the way it is and why Eddie brought me into the business. Our success over the most recent property cycle, we attribute it to the nature of the structure we have put in place and having the expert advice at all stages of the development cycle for Eddie to be able to make quick decisions.
We are able to do compact, due-diligence investigations and that allows us to make those decisions quickly.
Why do you think Ceerose believe its important to make the most of heritage buildings?
We have been involved in a number now. They are difficult opportunities and there is always a lot of risk and it’s difficult to get the ultimate yield.
We have just recently acquired another site with a heritage site. That’s on George St at Haymarket. We are working with some of Sydney’s leading architects and urban designers as to how to best redevelop that site while respecting the existing heritage and promoting feasibility. We also have three sites with heritage aspects that are under construction. We look at them as unique opportunities.
Why do you think people want to live in places like your historic Harbour Mill?
Many people just appreciate the architecture. People respected the amount of work we had done to integrate the building not only with the significance of the building’s heritage but also create that building as part of the community so it linked to public roads and integrated with the ground floor.
When it comes to the criteria and assessing development opportunities, how do you go about it?
Well we do have out own internal lists that are being developed over time but we wait and see the desirability of the individual areas.
Clearly those that are integrated with transport linkages and accessibility of the city or rather public functions are good. We generally look within 10 kilometres of the CBD because independent of the cycle; we believe there will always be both migrations interstate and overseas that will see those sites as desirable places to live.
We believe there will always be a need for real estate in the CBD core. We will continue to look for properties there because of the consistence in demand over time.
How does Ceerose approach development and key sites like Eliza?
Eliza was a different proposition. We looked at that as an opportunity and it was right about the time of the GFC. We actually purchased the site from a multi-national construction organisation. They ran into trouble on a global scale. We were fortunate enough to see the opportunity.
What we decided in the end was to break it up into smaller apartments and we ended up with a mix that was five levels of 2x2 apartments, 8 levels of 4 per floor apartments and a single penthouse apartment that would take advantage of the sites location and amenities.
EdenWhat are the attributes that make Sydney unique?
It just has a continued desirability as a place to live as the financial capital of Australia. Sydney has the best employment prospects and highest paid employees. Internationally people might not know Brisbane or Melbourne but everyone knows the iconic features of Sydney. Despite the premium prices paid in the Sydney market, they recognise that it is the most desirable place to live.
How can Sydney target the rapid population growth?
I think Ceerose would be an advocate of going up. While that’s going ahead, working towards better transport on State Government basis to cater for that increase in density is key.
It is still a reasonably low-density city on the world stage.
Where do you see the opportunities in Sydney’s market at the moment?
It’s very competitive at the moment. That is in part driven by the influx of some of the large overseas developers. Companies out of Japan, Singapore and China over the last two-years, for various reasons are looking abroad. There’s been a lot of competition against construction and development companies.
What book are you currently reading?
Dark Prince by David Gemmell.
Where is your favourite place to dine?
Without being too cliché, Tetsuya.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love reading comics and I have a 12-year-old daughter that lights up my life.