Property Development with art – exclusive interview with David Scalzo

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We do integrate original art within our developments. Our portfolio spans many different sectors including commercial, residential and mixed-use precincts, so our approach is very unique and varies with each asset.

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? 

Perri Projects is a renowned residential developer committed to creating luxury, award-winning developments and exceptional communities. Established in Melbourne in 2009, our expertise lies in developing world-leading projects bound by a vision to create spaces that support residents, workers and the overall community.

What makes your business unique to your industry?

Perri Projects takes a unique approach to place making, and delivers developments with a difference. Our focus is unlocking urban development and renewal opportunities that offer an incredible lifestyle now and for years to come. Across all of our projects, from bespoke apartments to place making precincts, our ethos is the same: to build carefully considered spaces of timeless quality. We are experts in delivering high quality projects, on time and within budget, across both retail and residential developments. We have a very long term view and vision for all of our work and assets. Most of our competitors are driven by different fundamentals, which makes us unique as a property development firm.

How did you start your business? Where the first two years challenging?  

The world was just starting to recover from the Global Financial Crisis when we founded Perri Projects in 2009. The first two years were extremely challenging for all industries, but particularly for real estate. Obtaining bank finance for projects was difficult and also giving buyers the confidence to invest and purchase in that market was considerably tough.

What set us apart is that we saw this period as a time of great opportunity. It was during these challenging years that became established as a developer with the foresight to select great locations, and delivered truly innovative design and product to the market.

This market position allowed us to build and progress with projects with the support of our investment partners, banks and our buyers, at a time when few others were. By the time the market conditions progressed Perri Projects had a really strong portfolio of award-winning developments, which promoted our brand and vision.

What do you enjoy most about your work as a property developer?

Property developers have the chance to design and create great places for people to live and work in. To do so, we work with talented people from a range of disciplines very collaboratively. There is nothing more exciting than bringing innovative visions to life in the physical form.

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

Working as a property developer is both interesting and rewarding, but in this line of work significant challenges arise constantly. Almost weekly, a difficult situation may threaten the viability or integrity of one of our projects. Navigating the complexities of town planning, construction and finance is no easy feat – it certainly takes a huge amount of effort and willpower. The day-to-day is never monotonous!

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?

We do integrate original art within our developments. Our portfolio spans many different sectors including commercial, residential and mixed-use precincts, so our approach is very unique and varies with each asset.

For example, at Albert Tower, an award-winning residential development in Melbourne, we commissioned an urban art sculpture for the street entry. We also worked closely with Chloe Planinsek, a very talented local artist to create an original piece for the residents’ rooftop lounge.

At another project at the West Melbourne Waterfront, we are re-invigorating and gentrifying the whole neighbourhood through an outdoor urban art gallery called Shed180. We’re transforming the life-less walls of the former industrial waterfront buildings, the area will soon become a major new mixed-use community in Melbourne’s city centre.

We commissioned local and internationally renowned urban artists to create hand-made and in-situ works on the buildings that will have an ongoing relationship with the site. The Shed 180 artworks currently blend into the existing fabric and are beginning to transform the precinct.

As the redevelopment of the site begins we plan to maintain and celebrate the rich history of the precinct by carefully re-using these painted bricks throughout the development; in a public gallery, performing arts space or artist studio spaces. We’re planning to continue the relationship with these artists and further integrate future pieces into the new public precinct to ensure the site is enriched and continually connected to the rich history.

Do you collect art yourself? If so, what art can be found in your home?

My home is filled with pieces bought on my travels or on special occasions. The art reflects some very special places, life experiences and inspirations. I really like photography and have several original pieces from exhibited collections. Our collection also features a couple of special pop art pieces and Chinese antiques. My wife is an interior decorator and she often changes where the pieces are displayed throughout the house. This brings a whole new dimension to the pieces each time.

What are the biggest changes you have seen in property since you first started?

The real estate industry is evolving very rapidly in Australia – the type and quality of living and working spaces is changing to reflect the demand for this new taste. It’s fantastic that the industry as a whole is finding better ways to link people and buildings into communities and marketplaces through smart technology and design.

Trends like co-working spaces and flexi-apartments are really exciting and show a change in the way we think about where we live, work and create.

Now more than ever, people strive to understand a lot more about the essence and detail of property. People are beginning to ask who properties have been designed by, and also why developments have been designed in certain ways, using certain materials from specific places. I believe this is part of a growing world-wide movement which is also reflected in food, entertainment and fashion.

Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to start their career as a property developer?  

Always be passionate, patient and prudent!

As a developer, what trends do you see emerging in house building?

We’re constantly inspired by projects at the forefront in innovation from around the world. Technology integration into residential developments is a rapidly growing trend we have identified.

This year we launched our first of many luxury Tailored Living Residences; The Englefield in Melbourne’s sought-after suburb of South Yarra. Tailored Living is a concept that will see see leading edge home automation, personalised valet services and remote control technology delivered to residents through smart building design, assisted by phone and tablet applications to provide our residents with two of the most desired commodities in a busy lifestyle – convenience and time.

We’re also seeing a huge trend towards retained ownership and management of larger mix use precincts across the world. Our joint venture with Pellicano, a $600m redevelopment precinct in Brisbane; South City Square will see us look to retain ownership of the commercial spaces and on site building management for years to come. We also see a growth opportunity in the boutique hotel sector – we plan to tap into this market in the near future with Melbourne based projects.

David Scalzo - Managing Director Perri Projects


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