Main­tain­ing com­mu­nity stan­dards

Evan Dick­son’s keys to de­vel­op­ment suc­cess

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Evan Dick­son isn’t your usual de­vel­oper. He doesn’t have a de­gree in en­gi­neer­ing, ar­chi­tec­ture or build­ing, he is a fi­nan­cial con­troller and ac­coun­tant who prior to set­ting up with Chardan worked for Ernst and Young be­fore mov­ing into the fi­nan­cial con­troller’s po­si­tion at the very well re­spected Ray Group.

How­ever, it is this back­ground that held him in good stead for his fu­ture op­er­a­tions. At E&Y, which was still Arthur Young when he joined, he was ex­posed to large-scale busi­ness op­er­a­tions and a strong eth­i­cal foun­da­tion. While with the Ray Group he gained real world in­sight into the work­ings and re­quire­ments of large-scale property de­vel­op­ment.

The Ray Group is a pri­vate property de­vel­op­ment, in­vest­ment and man­age­ment group founded more than 40 years ago. It has his­tory and rep­u­ta­tion and pro­vided a fan­tas­tic learn­ing curve.

“I was mostly work­ing in in­voices for small busi­ness through Bris­bane and around QLD,” says Evan of his time with Ray Group. “We had a whole range of dif­fer­ent clients in dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries and I was learn­ing about fi­nan­cial cy­cles and man­ag­ing businesses and people. This was the height of the 1980’s property boom and property de­vel­op­ment was ex­cit­ing. We were do­ing some ma­jor work for ma­jor com­pa­nies. That changed in the 1990s when the cy­cle fin­ished, but it gave me a real taste for de­vel­op­ment.”

As time passed, Evan took a more hands on ap­proach with Ray Group and be­gan to over­see and be­come more in­volved in the ac­tual de­vel­op­ment process of the com­pany’s many de­vel­op­ments. He im­mersed him­self in de­vel­op­ment in Ca­lypso Beach and Koala Beach Res­i­den­tial Es­tate at Pottsville, NSW. There was also an en­ter­tain­ment themed at­trac­tion in Bris­bane’s Ama­zon Water­park.

“I learned a lot by lis­ten­ing to ex­perts in property fi­nance and ar­chi­tects. I learnt about the whole process of de­vel­op­ment, which was crit­i­cal in be­ing able to run my projects. Most im­por­tantly, I learnt about cre­at­ing a com­mu­nity,” Evan says.

“Year af­ter year I spent learn­ing the ins and outs of the in­dus­try. I didn’t have the usual back­ground. I had a back­ground in ac­count­ing, but this was a pos­i­tive as I knew I could man­age the fi­nan­cial risks as­so­ci­ated with these projects.”

With that con­fi­dence, in 1998 Evan es­tab­lished his own con­sul­tancy, KD De­vel­op­ment Man­age­ment. Through KDDM he met his for­mer busi­ness part­ner, but it also put him in the pres­ence of a ma­jor Bris­bane de­vel­oper who would change the course of his busi­ness.

That con­nec­tion was Perth based, fam­ily-owned com­pany Ex­pec­ta­tion Pty Ltd. There was a syn­ergy be­tween the two, mostly to do with com­mu­nity val­ues and not long af­ter­wards, Evan was tasked with rolling out Ex­pec­ta­tion’s first east coast, res­i­den­tial project, Somerset Meadows in the lush en­vi­rons of the Gold Coast Hin­ter­land.

“My goal with KDDM was to get in­volved in big projects with a long life­span and cre­ate com­mu­ni­ties. All the projects we do now are com­mu­nity based.”

So the meet­ing with Ex­pec­ta­tion was for­tu­itous to say the least. It was the be­gin­ning of Evan’s large-scale de­vel­op­ment busi­ness. KDDM be­came ex­clu­sively in­volved with Chardan De­vel­op­ment Group and the de­vel­op­ment arm of Ex­pec­ta­tion.

The first project as Chardan with Evan in­stated as the gen­eral man­ager was Chan­cel­lor Park. In mid 1997 Chardan ac­quired 300hs of open graz­ing land along the Bruce High­way near Bud­erim.

“We saw a great op­por­tu­nity to de­velop the area into a leading res­i­den­tial com­mu­nity, pro­vid­ing res­i­dents with a safe, en­rich­ing en­vi­ron­ment for their fam­i­lies.”

Fam­ily growth was the pur­pose of this de­vel­op­ment. It en­joys close prox­im­ity to the highly re­garded Sun­shine Coast Univer­sity, nu­mer­ous pub­lic, pri­vate and sec­ondary schools, beach strips, and Ma­roochy­dore’s city cen­tre.

The Chan­cel­lor Park mas­ter­plan, fo­cused around a multi-tiered lake sys­tem, open space and land­scaped park­lands, which is now home to over 7,000 res­i­dents. Neigh­bour­hood walk­ways and bike paths run be­side flow­ing wa­ter­ways and lakes that me­an­der through­out the green park­lands, cre­at­ing a sense of nat­u­ral space and free­dom.

Bar­be­cue ar­eas, a skate-bowl and large play­grounds en­sure people of all ages can en­joy the large range of com­mu­nity amenity.

More re­cently, a vi­brant commercial hub in­clud­ing some 50 lo­cal and na­tional businesses has com­ple­mented the grow­ing com­mu­nity. This de­vel­op­ment put into prac­tice the philoso­phies that Chardan had de­vel­oped and now

em­braced as a mas­ter­planned res­i­den­tial de­vel­oper. Evan even called this de­vel­op­ment home for three years.

Though a daunt­ing project to be­gin with the suc­cess was due to “hav­ing a good team of con­sul­tants in en­gi­neer­ing and town plan­ning. That is how we run our projects,” Evan says.

Upon the suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of the Chan­cel­lor Park de­vel­op­ment, Chardan wanted to se­cure an­other coastal de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­nity to cap­i­talise on its lo­cal team, ac­cu­mu­lated knowl­edge and ex­per­tise within the Sun­shine Coast mar­ket­place. Its brand had now been de­vel­oped and Chardan stood as a qual­ity res­i­den­tial, com­mu­nity de­vel­oper.

“The Chan­cel­lor Park project was built with a sense of com­mu­nity that evolved from within its ed­u­ca­tion foun­da­tion. Fam­i­lies bonded as they held com­mon val­ues and de­sires for their chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tional de­vel­op­ment.”

To en­sure their di­rec­tion re­mained true, the Chardan team chose six key­words as their de­vel­op­ment yard­stick for fu­ture projects.

Sus­tain­abil­ity. Com­mu­nity. Growth. Amenity. In­no­va­tion. Af­ford­abil­ity. These six words mean Chardan is com­mit­ted to re­spon­si­ble and eth­i­cal de­vel­op­ment that seeks to en­rich their com­mu­ni­ties and the re­gions in which they re­side.

“We look at the com­mon fo­cus of what holds com­mu­ni­ties to­gether,” Evan says. “In Chan­cel­lor Park it was the ed­u­ca­tion fa­cil­i­ties. In Sun­shine Cove it is the ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment.”

The next project se­cured by Chardan, was Sun­shine Cove. This 106 hectare of for­mer farm land in the heart of Ma­roochy­dore is sit­u­ated on the Sun­shine Coast, Queens­land. This par­cel was a green in­fill site with­out any pre­con­ceived ideas en­abling the many years of ex­pe­ri­ence gar­nered from Evans’ pre­vi­ous projects and his team’s sup­port to evolve into a true mas­ter­planned com­mu­nity.

The vi­sion for Sun­shine Cove was to build a com­mu­nity for those de­sir­ing a more ur­ban life­style with­out sac­ri­fic­ing their in­di­vid­u­al­ity or the free­dom of space.

“A place where the tyran­nies of com­mut­ing to work were a thing of the past, where you could ac­tu­ally live, work and play. A lo­ca­tion that whilst right in the heart of the city, still of­fered easy ac­cess to all the el­e­ments of the highly de­sir­able, laid back Sun­shine Coast out­door life­style.”

Since 2004, Sun­shine Cove has trans­formed from lo­cal farm­land into a res­i­den­tial cen­ter­piece for the Sun­shine Coast and Ma­roochy­dore. The end value of which is es­ti­mated at $800 mil­lion.

Po­ten­tially, some 6,000 people will live and work within the Sun­shine Cove com­mu­nity that in­cludes nu­mer­ous lo­cal and na­tional businesses, commercial precincts and small pock­ets of re­tail right in the heart of Ma­roochy­dore.

Evan has worked tire­lessly with builders, bu­reau­crats, coun­cils and com­mu­ni­ties to make all his projects a suc­cess. He has kept up to date with build­ing code changes and sus­tain­abil­ity prac­tices to en­sure that these com­mu­ni­ties of­fer the best avail­able ser­vices.

“Com­mu­ni­ties take time to build, but they need the right in­fra­struc­ture and fo­cus,” Evan says. “They have to be built with fa­cil­i­ties in­clud­ing schools, shop­ping and re­cre­ation ar­eas. Coun­cil and govern­ment ap­provals do take some time, but they are a process you have to go through at the be­gin­ning of the project. The tim­ing of those ap­provals is crit­i­cal to the suc­cess of the project. And while the ap­provals process has changed dra­mat­i­cally over the years, they have re­sulted in a far bet­ter prod­uct than was avail­able 20 years ago.”

There is still five or six years left to com­plete Chardan’s vi­sion for Sun­shine Cove as a commercial and res­i­den­tial hub. It is one of the group’s strengths that it fin­ishes what it be­gins. And Evan sees this abil­ity to cre­ate com­mu­ni­ties from the be­gin­ning of a project to re­al­ity as Chardan’s big­gest achieve­ment.

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