Shaping the Next Chapter of local development

Shaping the Next Chapter of local development
Jack Hayes

In building development, it is common to find buzzwords like “sustainability” and “community” littered through a company’s mantra.

They are popular terms that provide prospective buyers with the assurance needed in making what will be one most important decision in their lives.

It isn’t common, however, to find a business, particularly within the intensely competitive world of local real estate, which backs up that mantra with action and commitment to their clients and local community.

Next Chapter Projects does just that.

Acting as a conduit between developers and buyers, Next Chapter works strictly with high-quality, architecturally-finessed and sustainably-minded new home developments in Melbourne’s inner-north.

With the face of North and West Melbourne to change considerably over the coming decades with a bourgeoning CBD and Arden urban renewal on the horizon, Next Chapter director and founder Tom Hirini told North West City News the future of development in the suburbs would define the area for the decades to come.

“Living in North Melbourne, I have seen how much investment and development is happening in the area and the ones that align with our values, are the projects we would live in ourselves,” Mr Hirini said.

“Next Chapter was born out of seeing how the usual real estate model has been, where you are in and you’re out and on to the next one, but we are trying to build strong relationships and build a community within our projects.”

“For us, we aren’t a one-size-fits-all agency that is going to be project based, we are very client based. In that regard, we like to think of ourselves as consultants rather than salespeople.”

A North Melbourne local of more than seven years, Mr Hirini founded Next Chapter 12 months ago after a decade in the industry, building the knowledge and relationships that would eventually see him start his own business.

Mr Hirini and his team at Next Chapter now have three projects under their management: the recently complete Tailor Residences at 491 Victoria St, West Melbourne; 388 Barkly St, Brunswick, which will be completed in 2022, and the now selling Florenze Terrace, at 89 Lothian St, North Melbourne.

“Tailor Residences is a fantastic case study as to show what we are about and how we are trying to position our business. When dealing with local owner occupiers, understanding their motivations is the most important aspect in our discussions,” Mr Hirini said.

“It’s not just about the right property, or the right townhouse, although that certainly plays a big role, it’s about the building and the community within it.”

“There is a real intangible value because it hasn’t been built yet and it’s hard to say what it is like when it’s complete. Is it going to be a full of owner occupiers who are like-minded, have similar interests, kids at the same school, who are active on the owners’ corporation and making sure the building is taken care of, or is it a building with a higher proportion of investors?”

As with any off-the-plan transaction, Mr Hirini said trust and transparency were two key elements of his selling process that couldn’t be compromised.

Providing that bridge between those who design homes and those who want to live in them, allowing Next Chapter to put a face to an often-faceless developer, and inversely the business is then able to provide earnest feedback from purchasers.

“If you look at Tailor, we have been incredibly lucky to get to know everyone as they have bought, physically helping them move, introducing them to other residents in the building and maintaining that connection with our clients,” Next Chapter selling consultant Imani Fawahl said.

“We don’t want to let that go, we still want to be available and involved with our people.”

Ms Fawahl said it had been amazing to see a mentality shift for purchasers to wage their living towards a green lifestyle.

A perfect example of enhanced community outcomes is the transition of Next Chapter’s Florenze Terrace development, in a joint venture between Drake Developments and Nicholas Murray Architects, which saw 33 apartments and 34 car spaces become 18 spacious and architecturally outstanding townhouses and equivalent car spaces.

“It isn’t about aligning yourself with a building, but getting a developer who is willing to look at a project and think, how will the community respond?” Ms Fawahl said.

“The last two years has made people hone in what they are doing and what they can be doing and how you can live a sustainable life.”

“They are wanting electric car spaces, solar panels on their roof, and it is all about rainwater collection. The project has changed into a celebration of the community and enhancing the lifestyle of the area.”

As locals who work and live in the area, Mr Hirini and Ms Fawahl want to make sure the buildings Next Chapter sell, and the developers who build them, have the same aligned values, and that is to improve the community they built in and provide an exceptional standard of living for their residents.

“Living in North Melbourne and working here, we have a sense of ownership. We want to make a positive contribution to the community,” Mr Hirini said.

“Only offering clients buildings we would live in ourselves is imperative. It must be practical, a smaller community and ethically and sustainably designed.” •

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