Q&A: Lee Butterworth, Brookfield Residential Properties


Lee Butterworth is the Regional Director for Brookfield Residential Properties.

He is responsible for the delivery of the Portside Wharf development in Brisbane's Northshore precinct.

Lee ensures delivery of projects through effective management of operational, financial, sales and marketing and human resources.
1. What have been the most satisfying aspects of working on the Portside Wharf project?
The responsibility of creating a multi-stage mixed-use development while operating retail assets and the Brisbane Cruise Terminal ensures each day brings new challenges. At any given time we are working on a completed stage, in the process of delivering another stage and planning the next stage - it's always exciting and fast paced.
2. Many of your properties have been selling to investors as well as owner occupiers - what attracts these two very different groups to inner-city locations?
Investors are driven by rental yields which are a function of price point, rent and the potential for capital growth. In the past due to its waterfront location and Hamilton address, Portside Wharf developed a reputation for only having million dollar apartments attracting well healed owner occupiers, however this is not true.

While we do have luxury apartments with million dollar price tags befitting of the fantastic river and city views, Portside Wharf offers a mix of price points catering to all market segments, investors in particular. The riverfront location and quality retail offering means Portside Wharf rental rates are above the Brisbane average and investors can achieve yields of five to six per cent.

The riverfront location has a huge appeal to the owner occupier market. This group is made up of mostly downsizers who are looking for a low maintenance home with everything at their fingertips.

Buyers making the shift to apartment living find Portside Wharf particularly appealing because while they are scaling down on floor space, they are gaining a backyard filled with dining, retail and entertainment, bordered by the Brisbane River and Hamilton Recreation Reserve. Accessibility is high on their priority list and Portside Wharf's proximity to Brisbane City and Fortitude Valley, and transport options including airports, CityCat and Gateway Motorway is a real drawcard.
3. Why has Portside Wharf been so popular?

Image: Pinnacle - Portside Wharf, BrisbaneWhen you buy a residence at Portside Wharf, you get more than just an apartment - there's a whole lifestyle that comes with it. Living opportunities such as the one on offer at Portside Wharf are few and far between, so when buyers recognise this is an urban village with a wide mix of retailers, on the waters' edge, in a premier suburb like Hamilton, they realise it's an opportunity not to be missed.
4. Why are so many properties selling off-the-plan?
Astute purchasers see many benefits in buying before completion, particularly with the market in recovery mode, as buyers want to get in at today's prices. Buying off-the-plan also ensures you get your apartment of choice and have an influence on finishes and colour schemes.
 5. What project are you currently working on?
As the Regional Director, I have operational responsibility for Portside Wharf as well as our Bluewater development in Cairns and our land holdings in Keperra and west of Caboolture. We have two buildings currently under construction and another five in the planning stages. We are also looking at new business opportunities, as and when they present themselves.
 6. How important is it to choose a development site that already has infrastructure and amenities in place?

Image: Pinnacle, Portside WharfThis is extremely important. It's something that all purchasers look for - be it investors, downsizers or first home buyers. A community environment is very appealing to most purchasers and we have worked hard to achieve that. We compete with a number of rival developments who don’t have control of when and what type of amenity will be provided – we don’t have that problem as we prefer to control our own destiny in this regard.

The infrastructure and amenity, will only improve as the State Government moves ahead with its $650 million plan to turn Kingsford Smith Drive into a six lane boulevard and improve the quality of the public spaces.
7. How did you first get into the property development industry?
I studied construction management at university and joined Multiplex Constructions in 1996. By 2003 I was a Project Manager and had accrued a significant amount of experience working on many different types of building sites around Australia and overseas. An opportunity to work in the development team presented itself and I was keen to enjoy the challenge of a new experience. I am fortunate to have a respectable grounding in construction which has instilled good business disciplines which I can apply to my role as a developer and manager.
 8. What is your biggest success to date?
I have essentially worked for the same employer for 18 years and have experienced many changes including the transition from being a private company to a listed company, being acquired by Brookfield, the GFC years and many structural adjustments in between. Throughout this time I have continued to be a valued employee and have enjoyed organic growth and support from the business.
9. What book are you currently reading?
The Lonely Planet Japan. I have a passion for travel and am looking forward to a family trip in the New Year.
10. Your favourite restaurant?
There are many, but my wife and I recently enjoyed our wedding anniversary at Gerard’s Bistro, great menu.

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