Hands-on Approach

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-By Robert Hoshowsky

From residential structures like luxurious waterfront developments on Homebush Bay to industrial and commercial projects like The Five05 project – a daring, five-level outdoor adventure department store in Sydney’s Central Business District – m projects pty ltd remains at the forefront of many unique and innovative developments in New South Wales.

Formed in 2005, Sydney-based m projects has earned a reputation for its successful and unique project management and property development solutions. Serving clients in residential, development/management, and commercial/industrial sectors, it is not unusual for the privately-owned company of seven to oversee projects valued in excess of $100 million dollars. Over the years, customers have recognised m projects’ strengths, which include dedicated directors committed to building relationships with clients based on openness and trust, and working closely with customers to ensure goals are focused, clearly defined, and result in strategic solutions that enhance and benefit the project.

“We do all our work in-house,” says Miled Akle, who serves as one of m project’s Directors, along with Marcello Tuteri. “No contractors or sub-consultants.” With a personable and hands-on approach to clients and projects, m projects offers a spectrum of project management and property development services. In addition to development management and strategy, and project and construction management, m projects provides contract administration, design and cost and program management, due diligence, sales and marketing management, relocation management, client representation, and independent assessments and certification.

Project Management
“What we do as project managers is act as the lead consultant representing the client,” says Akle. “So a land owner comes to us and says, ‘m projects, we have a site that we want to develop, can you help us?’ we appoint a design team – that is, the architect, engineers, design consultants, interior designers – and together come up with design concepts, then go to council to get the relevant approvals, and basically create the project.” Once all the approvals for the project are completed, m projects will assist the client in other areas, including feasibilities, finances (when required), and finding the right qualified contractors to carry out the work, which the company manages right up to the job being handed over to the client. The company, always willing to accommodate its clients, will go out to tender, price contractors, and manage the entire construction process from start to finish, ensuring it has been designed, built, and delivered in accordance with contract documents. Although in most instances clients already have a parcel of land before they approach the company, there have been a number of cases where m projects has helped them find appropriate land upon which to build their vision.

Development Management Services
Along with project management, m projects offers its clients development management services, including the preparation of feasibilities to ensure projects are financially realistic. Often sales, marketing, or leasing agents are involved in the process, experts who will determine if numbers are realistic and actually stack up in terms of revenue perspective.

“We provide that service, and look at the maximum yield that can be achieved, whether it’s an apartment, rental, or office fit-out,” says Akle. “We do the feasibilities, assist in the sales and marketing process, and manage sales agents in terms of when they’re selling apartments – we keep track of what’s being sold, what’s not, and any variations with purchases. By managing the purchase process, we ensure there’s a smooth transition from when a purchaser comes in and provides a deposit to the purchaser settling on the property at the end of completion.”

Over the past six years, m projects has fostered relationships with new clients, and appreciated the business from repeat clients such as Stockland and Payce Properties. As always, m projects believes in respecting relationships and the needs and expectations of its customers. “Certain clients are comfortable with certain consultants that they’ve worked with over the years, while other clients come to us and they don’t have any consultants, and ask for our recommendations.” To better serve its clients, m projects works with a wide range of consultants, nominating a selection and submitting a recommendation to the client.

Hands-on Approach
“We are a small boutique firm, we’re not and do not intend to become a large consortium,” says Akle. “Our business is really about the hands-on approach from the directors, who are involved in all the projects. And it’s really all about relationships, people management, and delivering/ meeting our clients’ requirements and expectations.”

A compact, well-run operation, m projects has successfully managed a number of well-known projects for repeat clients, like Stockland. “We deliver on time, we deliver on budget, and we satisfy our clients’ requirements time and time again,” says Akle. “In some instances, our clients just come to us, and give us the project – so we often don’t tender for our services. That’s a result of repeat business, because we believe we’ve been successful in that aspect, and obviously we have the same clientele, because they’re happy with us, and that’s why they come back.”

Along with a number of other projects for Stockland – such as the Tri-Generation plant, Stockland’s new 9,700 m2 head office in Sydney’s Stockland Piccadilly, and the $85 million Waterloo Road development in Macquarie Park – m projects have acted as Project Managers for jobs that are considerably smaller, but no less important. The $2 million Tree House Childcare Centre, a 1,000 m2 childcare centre located at Stockland’s Head Office in Sydney, required planning, stakeholder approval, design management, tender and contract administration, and obtaining an operator’s licence from the Department of Community Services (DOCS). The centre has received accolades from the client, DOCS, parents and staff alike. It is the care, commitment, and skills working with others that has earned m projects a great deal of repeat and new business over the years.

For The Waterfront – Canberra’s first residential development on Lake Burley Griffin – Mr Akle took an active role in acquiring a waterfront site for the client at Kingston Foreshore in Canberra. He was also tasked with managing the analysis of the local residential market and competitor climate, liaising with local authorities, and coordinating design consultants to achieve a maximum yield for Stockland without compromising the waterfront position. The result? Canberra’s first residential development on Lake Burley Griffin, a stunning $60 million exclusive residential development of 108 high-quality apartments positioned around four glazed atria. The project, completed in 2007, set a benchmark in apartment design and quality.

Prior to creating m projects with partner Tuteri, Mr Akle worked in a number of capacities in a design and construct operation, project management, and as a residential developer, gaining valuable skills along the way. Depending on the size and scale of the project, it can take up to several years to create a new building from inception to completion. There are many factors along the way that can speed or slow construction, including approvals, the complexities of the site itself, market conditions, and local councils. No matter the job, the one factor that remains constant for m projects is “people management.”

The recently completed Inmark Tower was a project that m projects took carriage of over 4 years ago.  Tuteri managed a design team to create some major redesigns of an existing Development Approved site and seek Council approval for those considerable changes.  Including extensive negotiations with RailCorp to verify design solutions for foundation and excavation sequencing which came within close proximity to major underground railway tunnels, construction works commenced in earnest by late 2008 and the project was completed in April 2011.  In the end, this project realises the design award winning facades for a 218 unit, mixed residential development project improving the skyline in the Haymarket end of Sydney’s CBD.

“We have many different clients, and it is important for us to manage and maintain the expectations of all our clients in terms of deliverables,” says Akle. “Regardless if you’ve used a contractor before, they have different people in different roles for different projects.”

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

August 19, 2018, 7:48 AM AEST