Creating places for people: how to build the ideal community

PUBLICATION: The Real Estate Conversation
DATE:

Urban planning and residential design are at the core of every community, dictating how we as a society work, live and play. The quality of our communities has a significant impact on our daily lives, including our physical and mental health.

As developers, we are the wardens of the communities we create; a responsibility that drives our vision and everyday decision-making. There are a variety of factors considered when developing housing estates, including environmental impact, long-term sustainability, stakeholder management, connectivity, and safety.

Because of this, there are often a number of ideas and initiatives that don’t make it past the initial planning phase. With typical red tape hurdles cast aside and a bit of blue-sky thinking, we consider, what would the ideal residential community of the future possibly look like?

Maximise public spaces

When creating housing estates, parks are at best, interactive, multi-faceted active and passive areas for day-time activities, and at worst, small grassed areas that are dictated by the landscape and rarely given extensive consideration. Across the board though, parks are considered a day-time amenity, not safe or fit for use at night.

This doesn’t have to be the case. With the right lighting, parks can be a fun and interactive place at night where the community could come together for meals, music or group exercise. In an ideal community, structures in the park could be established with solar panels that generate power, enabling a safe and fun environment at night and ultimately maximising this valuable resource.

Creating parks that are also dog-friendly, with specific off-leash times, fosters responsibility and encourages socialisation between neighbours, giving just as many benefits to the community as it does to our beloved pets.

Integrating cul-de-sacs, or no-through roads, into a planned community can encourage residents to use public space for community activities such as neighbourhood BBQs or friendly sporting games. Less frequent traffic on road means children are able to play more safely outside their homes.

Create community projects

There are few things that foster a sense of community more than a shared project or asset. The perfect example of this is a community garden or a communal orchard, allowing residents to work together to maintain the gardens and share in the benefits of fresh produce, which could be distributed evenly amongst households.

Extensive research shows community gardens provide numerous health benefits including improved access to food, improved nutrition, increased physical activity and better mental health. Community gardens are also conducive to promoting social health and community cohesion.

Reuse and recycle

When hundreds of homes are being created, there’s inevitably a large amount of product waste with discarded timber, bricks, concrete, sand, etc. Developers and builders are often forced to spend time and resources disposing of these materials at the tip. It begs the question, is there a better way to reuse those materials?

A more sustainable solution would be to repurpose those materials, either by donating them to a not-for-profit homebuilder such as Habitat for Humanity, which helps people obtain safe and decent housing, along with the strength, stability and independence to build better lives, or reusing them for the benefit of the residents to create a communal tool shed or children’s cubby house.

Embrace technology

As technology continues to become such an integrated part of our lives, we need to start factoring it in to the communities we create. While this is already in its infancy with the introduction of smart homes, ideally, we could take it one step further and explore how technology can be used to bring residents together.

A great example would be free WIFI available in public spaces. This would encourage residents to leave their homes and allow them to work or study in open spaces; activating the public realm. It’s also a great tool for kids, allowing them to always be connected to home and get in touch with their parents when they’re out and about in the estate.

A community app for smart phones could also be of great value, where residents can get real-time updates of community get-togethers or notifications of local events like a group dog walk around the park on the weekend. This digital extension of the community brings people together and cultivates a sense of connection.

While it’s not always feasible to create the ideal community, as developers and urban planners it is always necessary to approach residential and community design with the intention to create something that will go above and beyond simply providing people with a home. Fostering a sense of belonging, encouraging positive social interactions between neighbours and maximising liveability are the cornerstones of a successful development.

The Best Investment You Can Make for Your Lifestyle

PUBLICATION: Growland
DATE:

Now more than ever, we as a society are prioritising ourselves, our time and our lifestyle over anything else. This is evident in the rise of convenience-based services and products, such as Uber Eats, Youfoodz, Uber and Airtasker, and our increased focus on health and wellness.

This trend extends to property, where modern buyers are forgoing large backyards in the suburbs for amenity-rich, inner-city apartments that offer hotel-style living in the heart of all the action.

No longer content to spend our free time on a long commute to and from work, we’re swapping frenzied morning traffic for a leisurely bike ride. Rather than spending Sunday nights at home cooking a roast, we’re going out for dinner and drinks with nearby friends.

These factors have driven us to invest more in a lifestyle that affords us the free time to do the things we want. This has seen an increasing demand for inner-city apartments, where we can access everything we need in a matter of minutes. Victoria Square in Footscray, just 3.9km from Melbourne’s CBD, has been incredibly popular among a variety of home buyers.

Well-placed along the Maribyrnong River bike paths, and just 600 metres from the railway station, residents will be a short ride away from Melbourne’s CBD. A short walk will also lead to an abundance of local restaurants, cafes and bars, without the worry of who’s going to drive home on a Friday night.

For those that want to stay even closer to home, the complex will feature a bustling pedestrian laneway full of premium restaurants and bars that will make the choice of whether to stay in or head out a hard one.

If in need of a way to unwind, the abundance of luxury amenities at Victoria Square are sure to leave residents feeling refreshed, relaxed and re-energised. Complete with a 25-metre lap pool, spa, state-of-the-art gym and aerial running track, a day at home can feel more like a day at a luxury resort.

While this lifestyle that inner-city living affords was once considered a trade-off for a small living space, the rise of apartment living and increased investment in architecture by developers means this is no longer the case.

Each apartment at Victoria Square features spacious open plan living spaces, private balconies and substantial storage space, ensuring the premium lifestyle doesn’t stop once purchasers get home.

Designed by renowned architects, Kavellaris Urban Design, the apartments have been created to the upmost detail, with high quality fixtures and finishes that are designed to be enjoyed for a lifetime.

The choice to invest in this lifestyle through apartment living is any easy one to make, especially when the return is so high.

Due to overwhelming demand for apartments at Victoria Square, the second tower of the development, VS02, has recently launched ahead of schedule.

For more information or to book a display suite tour, register online or call us on 0455 998 899.

Growland aims for local buyers as Victoria Square’s second Stage is launched

PUBLICATION: Urban Melbourne
DATE:

On the back of selling 90% of apartments within the first Victoria Square tower, developer Growland has launched the second stage of the development located in Footscray’s Joseph Road Precinct.

Growland will now pursue the local owner-occupier market even more vigorously in order to account for the bulk of the second tower’s sales, having noted a decline in foreign buyer interest of late. The newly released tower has been dubbed VS02 and will include 168 apartments, spanning levels 4 to 21.

This refocusing on the local buyer has seen a diverse number of floorplates and design options made available across VS02; the strategy allows the tower to be an attractive option for as many potential buyers as possible. Growland has also begun single bedroom apartment internals within VS02 from 61sqm, a considerably large size in relation to many other Melbourne apartment projects.

WHAT THEY SAY

Interest from foreign buyers is slowing due to regulatory changes, so the market has adapted to meet the preferences of the local owner-occupier market, which is quickly gaining in strength. There are many aspects of a project that need special attention to cater to this demographic. Quality, diversity, and flexibility are crucial.

The scale of Victoria Square and VS02 means we can offer a significantly diverse range of residences. While Victoria Square is fantastic for young professionals, couples, and first-home buyers, there is a large range of larger apartments that are also perfect for young families.

This gives it a unique position in the market place: it will be a truly integrated community in Footscray.

Ronald Chan, CEO, Growland

Get to know Ronald Chan, CEO of developer Growland

PUBLICATION: The Real Estate Conversation
DATE:

Ronald Chan has been appointed CEO of Growland, and has been tasked with leading the company in a new growth phase. Chan grew up in Hong Kong, but went to university in Melbourne, and currently has five projects underway.

How did you first get into property development?

I graduated in 1999 with a double-degree from the University of Melbourne – a Bachelor of Planning and Design and a Bachelor of Property and Construction. Following my graduation, I returned to Hong Kong where I started my first job as a Project Coordinator at one of Hong Kong’s largest development companies – Chun Wo Construction Co.

I went on to spend six years in Hong Kong, where I managed two large-scale residential projects worth a combined value of $425 million.

What do you love most about your job?

Working in this industry means we get to see the full cycle of project development, from site acquisition to completion. I’ve been lucky enough to manage some of Melbourne’s biggest landmark multi-residential projects like the Sheraton Hotel residences, The Emerald, Victoria One, Collins House, Opera and Sky One.

What makes a good developer?

I think the best developers are those that genuinely love what they do and the people they work with. Being able to motivate your team and lead them in a clear direction, while maintaining a sense of comradery and team-spirit is essential to any successful project.

I also believe a good developer is one that creates buildings with the residents in mind at every turn. When you do that, you’ll create something special that will enhance people’s lives and stand the test of time.

What projects are you currently working on?

Growland’s current project focus is Victoria Square, a $600m Footscray development that will house six high-rise buildings and incredible amenity such as Australia’s first aerial outdoor track, an infinity pool and fitness centre, and a retail centre with boutique hospitality and retail offerings.

At this point we have a $1.3b pipeline. It’s an incredibly exciting time to join the team as we’re putting ourselves on the map for high quality but affordable housing in Melbourne.

We’re also focusing on apartment and land subdivision development. Currently we have four apartment developments and land that can be subdivided to include up to 1,400 dwellings.

What sets Growland apart from your competitors?

Growland is a company that was founded in part by an architect, so our developments are always carefully considered and designed to enhance quality of life not just for residents, but all locals in the area. We are committed to creating exceptional liveable communities that will stand the test of time.

What changes would you like to see over the next two to five years in the industry?

It’s an interesting time for the development industry in Australia. Local banks tightening their funding policy against developers’ construction loans is a pressing issue, and developers are being forced to look elsewhere for funding.

If developers struggle to follow through with their projects due to inability to secure funding, appropriate housing will become even more scarce and this will in turn drive prices higher.

Over the next few years I would like to see the government work collaboratively with the development industry to work towards an effective and sustainable solution to housing affordability.

Melbourne’s New Most Eatable City

Melbourne’s dining scene is world-renown for its exceptional quality, diversity and the sheer passion of locals who love it so much they’ve been labelled ‘foodies’. While over the years various areas of the city have been labelled food meccas or hotspots, there’s a new kid on the block that’s set to steal the crown.

Footscray epitomises everything Melburnians love; a mix of the old and new, a diverse culture and incredible food. From long-standing local favourites to the latest Instagram-worthy new guard, Footscray is a foodie’s paradise. The rich cultural heritage of the area is influenced by South East Asian, European and African cultures, combined with modern Australian flare.

Footscray is home to one of Melbourne’s most lauded American-inspired eateries, Up in Smoke. Setting itself apart from run-of-the-mill barbeque joints, Up in Smoke is home to an impressive $20,000 smoker which burns overnight, gradually smoking pork, brisket, ribs and sausages to perfection.

Up In Smoke via @upinsmoke_3011

Co-owner Shayne McCallum is a local trailblazer in the area, having started successful burger joint 8-Bit Burger, which has expanded to a second CBD premises. McCallum describes the menu at Up in Smoke as “Amercian-ish”, as their approach is not strictly traditional.

Patrons can expect to sample such delights as fried mozzarella sticks, smoked hot wings with ranch dressing, or for the extra ravenous, The Big Tray – a selection of pulled pork, brisket and chicken sausage served with chili mayo slaw, ham hock greens, milk buns and pickles.

Just 200m down the road is Bad Love Club, a brand new ‘boozy bakery’ with a coffee and jaffle bar. The bakery opens from 6am, with locals lining up to grab a Sensory Lab coffee with a breakfast jaffle or 5 & Dime bagel. At night, baked goods drawn from old family recipes are served alongside elaborate dessert cocktails.

The design is fun and colourful – think American diner with a twist. Owners Sarah Ryan and Damien Shaw enlisted BOarch for the fit out, which features popping pink walls and channels a Southern California meets 1970s Australian vibe.

Bad Love Club via @badloveclub
Bad Love Club via @badloveclub

Local produce is also a key consideration for the family that run Café Lalibella, a small-scale Ethiopian restaurant with plenty of charm. Serving authentic Ethiopian fare, locals and visitor alike come together in big groups to eat from a communal plate the traditional way – with their hands. It’s a fun way of eating the delicious injera, a large pancake-style sour bread, topped with fragrant stews and curries which are soaked up by the bread.

For those seeking something more classic, Footscray’s Plough Hotel, built in 1868, has long been a local icon. Owners Joe Setaro and Tony Adamo are passionate about providing down-to-earth hospitality and quality produce to the Footscray community.

Plough Hotel Footscray via @ploughfootscray

The menu features classic pub favourites, including share plates, pizzas and winter roasts in the chilly months. The simple dishes are elevated by a focus on home-made and local produce – all sauces and preserves are made in-house. The drinks list favours regional Victorian wines and craft beer makers, with the intention to support smaller producers. With both a bistro and a dining room, The Hotel is the perfect spot for families, couples and large groups alike.

It’s clear that Footscray’s local charm has captured the hearts, and stomachs, of food lovers Melbourne-wide, and will continue to do so for some time to come.

Next Generation Footscray Living

PUBLICATION: Bookmarc
DATE:

Phase one of Victoria Square, the new six-tower $600 million masterplanned precinct in Footscray recently launched with 70 per cent of apartments already sold.

Playing a pivotal role in Footscray’s rejuvenation, Victoria Square by Australian-based developer Growland has been popular with first home owners, upgraders and savvy investors due to its high quality architectural offering, affordable price points, and the exponential interest in Footscray’s property market.

Once a paragon of Melbourne’s working class, Footscray is undergoing significant gentrification that will see its value increase drastically in the coming years.
Evidence of the area’s growing appeal comes from Core Logic data, which shows house prices in the area have grown by 8.82 per cent in the last 12 months, and apartment prices by 9.52 per cent in the same period. Research think- tank Urbis has reported that Footscray’s median apartment price has experienced the highest annual price growth compared to other suburbs in the same radius from Melbourne’s CBD.
CEO of Growland, Ronald Chan, says Footscray’s strong potential is finally coming to light, and savvy buyers are recognising the unique opportunity the suburb presents.

“Buyers today are astute. They know that as Melbourne prices continue to grow, buying in a relatively affordable suburb like Footscray, where there are significant drivers for growth, is a wise investment option,” said Chan.

‘It’s an inner-ring suburb that is seeing billions of dollars of private and government investment, so there’s no doubt it will flourish in the years to come.”

Victoria Square in inner west catching the eye of outer suburbs’ buyers

PUBLICATION: Herald Sun
DATE:

APARTMENTS with high amenity in Melbourne’s inner west are gaining the attention of homeowners in the outer suburbs, according to developer Growland.
The company’s chief executive, Ronald Chan, said phase one of Victoria Square, its six-tower $600 million masterplanned precinct in Footscray, had significant interest from Caroline Springs, Sunshine and St Albans, with homeowners looking to upgrade their properties and move into Melbourne’s inner ring.

“We are finding our buyers are looking for residences to support their idea of modern living — beautiful apartments surrounded by extensive food, entertainment and retail options that are only a short journey from the CBD,” Mr Chan said.

“Interestingly, we are seeing a substantial number of buyers trade their suburban home that might be 25km from the CBD for one of Victoria Square’s inner-ring apartments, such is the strength of these lifestyle drawcards.

“This reaffirms to us that buyer sentiment is changing rapidly.

“Five years ago, the overwhelming majority of buyers were keen to settle down into a family home and traded location for a big backyard.

“Now we’re seeing depth in the market, while this dream still exists, a strong segment of the market is recognising the inherent value in an inner-city apartment thanks to the incredible lifestyle convenience and amenity it can offer.”

Traditionally recognised as a working class suburb, Footscray was in the midst of change, with savvy buyers recognising the value the suburb offered, Mr Chan said.
CoreLogic data shows the median house price has grown 50.9 per cent to $800,000 and the median unit price has grown 26 per cent to $400,650 in the past five years.

Victoria Square Only Has 30% Left To Give On Launch Day

PUBLICATION: The Urban Developer
DATE:

Phase one of Victoria Square, the new six-tower $600 million masterplanned precinct in Footscray, will launch to public on the weekend with 70 per cent of apartments already sold.

Playing a pivotal role in Footscray’s rejuvenation, Victoria Square by Australian-based developer Growland has been popular with first home owners, upgraders and savvy investors due to its high quality architectural offering, affordable price points, and the exponential interest in Footscray’s property market.

Once a paragon of Melbourne’s working class, Footscray is undergoing significant gentrification that will see its value increase drastically in the coming years.

Evidence of the area’s growing appeal came from Core Logic data, which showed house prices in the area have grown by 8.82 per cent in the last 12 months, and apartment prices by 9.52 per cent in the same period.

Research think-tank Urbis reported that Footscray’s median apartment price experienced the highest annual price growth compared to other suburbs in the same radius from Melbourne’s CBD.

Growland CEO Ronald Chan, says Footscray’s strong potential is finally coming to light, and savvy buyers are recognising the opportunity the suburb presents.

“Buyers today are astute. They know that as Melbourne prices continue to grow, buying in a relatively affordable suburb like Footscray, where there are significant drivers for growth, is a wise investment option,” Mr Chan said.

‘It’s an inner-ring suburb that is seeing billions of dollars of private and government investment, so there’s no doubt it will flourish in the years to come.”

The Trending Melbourne Suburb That’s Flying Under The Radar

PUBLICATION: Growland
DATE:

As a cultural hotspot in Melbourne’s West, the suburb of Footscray is eclectic and vibrant. What was once an industrial area, thanks to its recent regeneration Footscray is fast joining the ranks of suburbs like Fitzroy and Collingwood with an emerging reputation as alternative, artsy, and downright cool.

Footscray’s diverse community and its rich migrant history contributes to the area’s upbeat community spirit and provides the basis for Footscray’s unique dining scene. In addition to a range of ‘Insta-worthy’ cafés, the local eateries offer various international options, ranging from authentic Vietnamese fare, modern American barbeque and traditional Ethiopian feasts. The ingredients are most likely sourced from Footscray’s large, fresh food markets known for their affordable produce and exotic items – think lotus flowers and cassava roots. Plans are currently in the works for The Little Saigon Market to undergo a $5.4 million redevelopment following the fire that closed the local institution in 2016.

Apart from offering some of the best pho in Melbourne, Footscray is home to the flagship 8-bit burger outlet that serves up juicy, brioche bun burgers to lines of devout customers. Yet, Footscray’s old-school appeal still prevails through long-standing establishments such as T. Cavallaro & Sons’ pasticceria. Opening in 1956, the family business has cultivated a reputation for their traditional Sicilian cannoli – a perfectly flaking pastry that is filled with rich ricotta or chocolate custard and finished with a light dusting of icing sugar. The rich tapestry of cuisines makes Footscray an epicurean delight and Melbourne’s ultimate food destination.

Deemed ‘The Festival City’, Footscray annually hosts the St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival, which sprawls across the banks of the Maribyrnong River and features world-class music artists. Melbournians flock from all corners of the city for the chance to see artists like Flume, Lorde, and Tame Impala, while revelling in the underground arts scene. To meet the increasing demand for cultural pursuits, a new Sun Theatre venue is set to open in 2019 on Albert Street. Art house and local films will be screened alongside Hollywood blockbusters in the 8-screen complex. Before the new cinema opens, pop-up rooftop sessions will run throughout the warmer months.

Ideally positioned within the metropolitan inner-ring, Footscray’s proximity to the CBD is proving to be attractive to young professionals and families who seek convenience without the intense bustle of city living. The transport network serves locals well – the Footscray Train Station underwent a significant upgrade in 2014 and has become a major transport link to Regional Victoria. Southern Cross Station in Melbourne’s CBD is now only a nine-minute journey via the train line. Footscray’s liveability and accessibility will only improve with time as it transforms into a progressive, urban hub.

City planners are cognisant of the growing appeal of Footscray and aim to match the influx of residents with improved amenity and architecturally impressive developments. Yet, Footscray remains relatively affordable as it undergoes a dynamic regeneration process. The streetscape is balanced against one of the last remaining examples of a true Edwardian-style garden – Footscray Park spans over 15 hectares with valley views offering a refreshing combination of urban and rural vistas, a lifestyle affordance that is rare with metro living.

Want to find out more? Visit http://www.vic-sq.com.au

Joseph Road Precinct’s Final Application Sails Toward Reality; Now For The Task Of Delivery

PUBLICATION: Urban Melbourne
DATE:

Near on a year after being submitted, Footscray’s last major development within the Joseph Road Precinct is all but reality.

Last week it was recommended by internal planners that Maribyrnong Council’s City Development Special Committee issue a Notice of Decision to Grant a Permit for the multi-towered development which accounts for the last ‘super site’ within the 17 hectare renewal area. 2 Neilson Place is the final piece of the puzzle within the vast formerly light industrial land holding which constitutes the Joseph Road Precinct.

Over recent years six separate scheme within the precinct have gained approval, amounting to some 3,300 new apartments.

Carrying a cost of development of $180 million, 2 Neilson Place is positioned to add another 500 plus apartments to Joseph Road Precinct. Of these, 5% are to be allocated as affordable housing.

Set across 6,323 square metres, 2 Neilson Place also adds 620 square metres of retail floor space, 3,418 square metres of office space and capacity for a childcare centre. A variety of amenities are anchored by podium and tooftop open spaces.

Well beyond the preferred maximum building height of 12 storeys, “consideration has been given to reducing the heights, however any reduction in height would not make any significant difference to the urban environment of Joseph Road.” This is in response to earlier approvals in some instances reaching 32 levels.

With the planning aspect of Joseph Road Precinct all but complete, the challenge for developers is to now deliver the thousands of approved apartments.