Nightingale apartments Brunswick approved – alternative development models gaining traction

2015 March 6
by Tim Riley

I’ve been following the progression of the Breathe architecture led Nightingale Brunswick apartment project with interest over the last few months. Mostly because it seems the creators have developed a similar approach to the Property Collectives model, although focused on apartments versus townhouses.


So it was good to read this week that this project has been approved by Moreland City Council.

The thing that struck me the most about the reports of the town planning approval process was the amount of community support for the project and the model. Particularly from the architectural community.

As noted in Michael Smith’s blog Nightingale received only 3 objections and had “an unprecedented 177 letters of support from architects and the local community wanting to see more affordable and environmentally sustainable housing.”

It’s very encouraged to hear that this level of support exists for an alternative development model.

Despite the lowest interest rates in history property is still unattainable for many so it is exciting to see so many people embrace a clever way to access high quality property.

Perhaps it is not too much of a surprise that a lot of the support for the project came from the architectural community. It seems this new model allows architects to take more control over the end product than many developers would allow them.

What the Nightingale project shows is that tweaking your financial model to elevates other priorities like quality and sustainability to an almost equal status as money can result in higher quality outcomes that people are passionate to support.

As Smith outlines in his piece, with the “Nightingale” financial model, “the profits of the developers are capped at 15%, rather than the traditional developer model which starts at 20% and then squeezes the costs and quality to get a bonus return. In the Nightingale model, Marketing costs, real estate costs and showroom costs are all eliminated completely with savings passed on to the buyers.”

The Nightingale is another alternative development model that is democratising development and making well designed buildings attainable and achievable for everyone.

Many congratulations to all involved in Nightingale 1. To achieve what they have done to date with a large number of stakeholders is impressive. It is a reflection of a strong vision executed well.

I hope Darebin City Council are just as generous as Moreland when it comes to approving our little alternative development model project in Clarke St Northcote!


The Clarke Street Collective: Our second Northcote joint venture property development kicks off

2014 September 19
by Tim Riley

I’m pretty excited to have kicked off another joint venture property development after recently purchasing 121 Clarke Street Northcote.

After 9 months of searching for a development site and a number of failed bids we secured a fantastic 877m2 property in a great location on Ruckers Hill. The plan is to build seven 3 bedroom townhouses on the site by the end of 2016.

Thanks to the six other Clarke Street Collective partners for all their patience, persistence and commitment to making our second Northcote joint venture property development project happen.

The happy ladies and babies

The happy ladies and babies on auction day

Dalziel Lane

Dalziel Lane

South West views to city

South West views to city

North East aspect to Ruckers Hill

North East aspect to Ruckers Hill

Northern aspect

Northern aspect



Step by step guide to small property development: YIP magazine

2014 July 18
by Tim Riley

Your Investment Property magazine recently started a three part series on small property development.

The aim of the series is to cover everything you need to know about making the transition from property investor to property developer.

Part One explores the first steps you need to take on the road to becoming a property developer. Click here to read the full article.

Look out for a few words from me on the importance of having an exit strategy before you start…


Step by step guide to small development

Step by step guide to small development p.2

The Saint George Collective: Northcote joint venture – the finished product

2014 January 27
by Tim Riley

Units 1-4/2 McCracken Avenue Northcote, Victoria


Saint George Collective joint venture property development - view from McCracken Avenue

View from McCracken Avenue


Design Team: Dan Demant, Tim Riley & The Saint George Collective

Documentation Architects: Loop 8

Location: Cnr of St Georges Rd & McCracken Avenue, Northcote, Victoria

Land Area: 486 m2

Building Area: 460 m2

Year: 2013

Photographs: Courtesy of Scottie Cameron

Construction: Freddi & Co Constructions


Saint George Collective joint venture property development - view from McCracken Avenue 2

View south of unit 4 from McCracken Avenue


This four townhouse joint venture development project at 1-4 McCracken Avenue Northcote was the result of four partners working together in a joint venture partnership. The objective of the group was to create a development with architectural and environmental integrity that we could all be proud of and that created real financial and social capital for the members of the collective.

The four partners each shared 25% of the costs and ended up with a townhouse each at the end of the project which took thirty three months. The property was secured in September 2010, permits were approved in August 2011, construction commenced in May 2012 and concluded in June 2013.

The north facing corner site with rear access via a lane way offered many opportunities for the design. We wanted all the units to maximise this north light access and take advantage of elevated city views to the south. One of the main challenges was the narrowness of the block. At only 12.8 metres in depth it resulted in small ground floor footprints of approximately 48 square metres. The three units to the rear have living and dining areas on the first level utilising deck areas for private open space and maximising cross flow ventilation. The front unit took advantage of the garden area to St Georges Rd with its living and dining areas on the ground. All units are three-bedrooms with en suite and main bathrooms.

Rather than dominating the streetscape with extra crossovers and garages, the parking area was hidden at the top of the site off the rear laneway. This provides a strong pedestrian presence to the front addresses of the development. This human scale is reinforced with the tactile materiality of the recycled brick that was used to match the front brick fence of the original building on St Georges Rd.

The form of the building is a simple extrusion of the ground. The overall form is articulated by deep deck areas, steel structural posts and varying colour treatment to the cladding. This was done in an attempt to give each unit a strong individual identity whilst being clearly part of a whole.

The primary cladding material is painted fibre cement sheet which acts as a durable low maintenance backdrop to the screening of the slatted timber balustrades. The silvertop ash battens add an extra layer of detail and materiality across the building and soften its mass.

Internally, a simple palette of durable materials was used. Non VOC paints were used throughout. There is central hoop-pine clad wall through each stairwell dotted with black formply slots acting to break up the mass. Kitchens are also in hoop pine with charcoal laminate benchtops and varying gloss and matt white tile break ups.

The concrete floor slabs remain exposed with a clear seal finish. The upper level floors are made up of large sheets of spotted gum hardwood ply with exposed jointing finished with a clear seal that enhances the patterning of the timber. 


Saint George Collective joint venture property development - stair case feature unit 2

Stair case feature wall unit 2


Saint George Collective joint venture property development - living room unit 2

Living room looking north unit 2


Saint George Collective joint venture property development - kitchen unit 2

Kitchen of unit 2


Saint George Collective joint venture property development - view from St Georges Rd

View east from St Georges Rd


A few of the happy joint venture partners


To find out more about Property Collectives, our coming projects and how we could help you start a project similar to this, fill out the contact form below.

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How to find the right joint venture development partner: Your Investment Property magazine

2013 December 28
by Tim Riley

How to find the right joint venture partner

Its a question I get asked often and its a not that easy a question to answer. Your Investment Property magazine asked me to put together my thoughts on this question for its readers in the November 2013 edition.

Click here to read online or click here to view as a pdf.



Heller Street Park Brunswick – a new model of inner-city housing

2013 August 12
by Tim Riley

Just wanted to share a great piece last week from our friends at Assemble Papers on the Heller Street Park and Residences by Melbourne architects Six Degrees.

It’s quite a unique project for a number of reasons. Although perhaps the core of its success is summed up best by Heller Street Park resident and urban planner Damian… “often the criticism in living in medium density housing is that the design isn’t well considered and that it’s yield based and developer driven rather than design driven. I think the secret here has been that the design is something that has bought like-minded people together who in turn have wanted to cultivate and improve or maintain it over time.”

Look out for the next installment in Assemble Papers next week…



Property syndicates – power in numbers: API magazine

2013 May 6
by Tim Riley

Thought I would share a recent article from API magazine which outlines some of the niche property strategies available to investors; property development, commercial investment, student housing, syndicates…

Making massive profits article_page 1

“Making Massive Profits with Niche Strategies” features not only an interview with myself on property syndicates, but also has a great case study on re purposing and property development from our friends at Pillar + Post who secured a fantastic development site in Abbotsford last year.

Massive profits article_Breece



Citiniche – a crowdfunding model for residential property development

2013 April 13
by Tim Riley

Crowdfunding is a relatively recent phenomenon that has the potential to change the way people raise capital. With the arrival of social media and connected online networks it has become much easier for online marketplaces to start to match people who need capital with those that have capital to invest.

Typically most crowdfunding platforms revolve around an all-or-nothing system. People post ideas or projects and if a project fails to appeal and reach its target, then pledged amounts are cancelled.

In Australia the biggest crowdfunding platforms are Pozible and ipledg. To date Pozible has facilitated $8m worth of projects.

Last year the leading crowdfunding site in the US Kickstarter raised $US145 million.

In the UK there has also been a rapid growth in crowdfunding platforms. Sites like Wefund and Crowdfund support a wide range of projects from helping artists make their first album to funding theatre performances. One of the most interesting crowdfunder in the UK is Crowdcube. Crowdcube specialises in sourcing capital for business. They are the first crowdfunder I have come across which has sought to focus on a niche market.

In Australia this type of specialisation is difficult because of our corporate law. While the  Corporations Act has a specific provision – section 708 – that exempts small-scale offerings from strict prospectus requirements for capital raising, it also restricts these activities to offerings of no more than $5 million in a 12-month period as long as 20 investors or fewer participate. This restriction makes it difficult for a business focused crowd funding venture like Crowdcube to get off the ground here.

So its interesting to see the launch of a niche crowdfund-like online platform Citiniche which is focused on matching property developers with potential buyers. Focused on the Melbourne property market, the site is looking to target “owner-occupiers who have a vested interest in getting what they want but who don’t individually have the resources to get a multi-unit project, with its economies of scale, off the ground.”

It will be interesting to see how Citiniche is received. In my experience there are many people that are interested in the idea of property development. The challenge however, is in not only finding and matching people with shared visions, but finding people that are committed to seeing a project through to completion. While many people are attracted by the idea of property development, accepting the risks and committing the time and money to executing on the idea is not for everyone.

Personally I hope that crowdfunding, crowd sourcing and initiatives like Citiniche will help not only raise awareness of alternative ways of doing business, but also educate people on how traditional models of property development and ways to property ownership are evolving…


Shameless promo

The Saint George Collective: joint venture development update – 6 weeks and counting

2013 April 7
by Tim Riley

With our completion date fast approaching in mid-May we are in for a busy time over the coming 6 weeks.

Thought I would share some pictures from the last four months since my last update.

It’s funny the milestones that stand out to you when you take some time to look back on with a project like this.

Flicking through all my pictures since Christmas the really exciting moments that really stand out are the stairs being installed, the completion of the ply wood feature walls and the kitchens going in…

Right now I’m looking forward to the floors being finished, the balustrades going in, the bathrooms being finished and the landscaping.

December 2012 – Eastern facade


March 2013 – Eastern facade


December 2012 – Northern facade


March 2013 – Northern facade


December 2012 – Stairwell and living


March 2013 – Stairwell and living





December 2012 – The kitchen


March 2013 – The kitchen



The Saint George Collective: joint venture development update – half way there

2012 November 18
by Tim Riley

Our last progress claim saw us tick past the half way point of our joint development in Northcote so I thought I would share a few of the best pictures of the project from the last few months.

Starting with the happy joint venturers at our group site meeting in early September…

November 2012

October 2012

September 2012

August 2012

July 2012

June 2012

May 2012