Maintaining community standards
Evan Dickson’s keys to development success
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.