Nicholas Smedley, Managing Director of Steller on art within the property development process

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Can you please share some general information about your business? Can you tell me when and where it was established, and what your expertise is?

Steller is a property development company that specialises in medium density apartments in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. We were established in 2006 and have a pipeline of $2.7 billion of developments in the pipeline.

What makes your business unique to your industry?
We were one of the first developers that offered medium density apartments that were built to a larger format. We also target owner-occupiers, as we believe that people don’t want to buy or live in dog boxes that are not up to minimum standards.

What do you enjoy most about your work as a property developer?
I enjoy having the ability to help gentrify suburbs, as I believe that much bigger urban sprawl is needed and developers need to focus building on the outer suburbs, and move away from the CBD. Having the ability to build in locations that we can pick and choose is a great perk.

What has been your biggest challenge in the industry to date?

So far, breaking the stigma of purchasing “off the plan” was our biggest challenge. However, once buyers saw our products, they realised that we were providing them with quality, which has built up our now strong track record, and created a demand for “Steller” product.

Secondly, finding land at a competitive price that still allows us the ability to offer a generous sizing while maintaining a price that is cheaper than our competitors has been a challenge, but one that will keep working through.

Do you integrate original art within various properties to increase the value of the property itself? What is the key criteria for you to select the artworks?

Having original art in our properties isn’t a main focus for us, but when we do select artwork, we make sure it is done by an artist that is typically Melbourne-based.
How do you outsource art for properties?

Do you collect art yourself? If so, what art can be found in your home?
I collect art from a range of artists who manage to capture experiences I’ve had and if they’re interesting. One such artist that I’ve found on my recent travels to South Africa is Portchie, who’s colourful work caught my eye.

What are the biggest changes you have seen in the industry since you first started?
Buyers are now more educated and know the difference in size and sustainable construction, which has become more important to them.

As a developer, what trends do you see emerging in house building?
Sustainable and green living are definite trends that will be emerging a lot more soon. Steller have also adapted to suit this, and now have a standard that will see all our new projects have solar power, rainwater toilet flushing and green-star rating appliances in addition to our existing energy saving standards.

Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to start their career as a property developer?
The deal is in the land!

Nicholas Smedley, Managing Director of Steller


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