The property industry doesn’t always have the best reputation. A recent survey found that just 2% of the public trust developers. Wow. I mean, are we really that bad? Is the image of a property developer still some fat cat sat around in his Range Rover smoking a cigar?
The trouble with a lot of regeneration projects is that they focus too much on the buildings.
They aren’t really designed with the occupier in mind and there’s no real attempt to make a proper community. All too often developers are motivated by securing the quickest financial return.
Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t make a profit. After all a thriving property sector creates jobs, attracts investment and drives economic growth. But you can take a less direct route to profit.
At our Crusader Mill development in Piccadilly East we took the bold move to sell only to owner occupiers and banned investors. Some people – especially estate agents – thought we were crazy.
Capital & Centric could have sold the whole lot to foreign investors and bagged 20-30% deposits without really trying.
But that didn’t feel right to us, or to the people of Manchester. So, we didn’t.
It might take us longer to sell but ultimately it will create a proper community at Crusader.
That’s why rather than a car park we’re creating a city centre garden and the whole building’s been designed to encourage interaction.
The Crusader community is already starting to form before people even move in. We’ve held parties for our buyers to mingle and it’s great to see them swapping numbers and liking each other’s posts on Instagram.
Everything we do has to have a positive social impact.
One of my big motivations is trying to create something that my children can be proud of. We want to make high quality, sustainable places that still look awesome in 20 to 30 years’ time.
So that means award winning architecture, preserving historic buildings and regenerating run down areas.
In Piccadilly East we’ve been bringing life back to the area long before our owner occupier community moves in at Crusader and our nearby Phoenix development.
Several independent businesses, including Track Brewing, Chapeltown Picture House and live music venue Yerrrr bar have seen people flock to what, historically, has been a rather unloved part of town. The other week we also hosted Mancunian Spray, a charity street art festival, which raised money for the Greater Manchester Mayor’s homelessness charity and saw the area buzzing with hundreds of people.
Elsewhere in the city, at KAMPUS – our joint venture with Henry Boot Developments – we’re creating a new £250m neighbourhood. We’re transforming the old Man Met site into over 500 apartments to rent with l ush secret garden at its heart.
Where a lot of new developments are selling an ‘exclusive’ lifestyle for us it’s always been about making KAMPUS inclusive. Yes, there’ll be a community of over 1,000 people living there, but they’re not going to be living in a bubble.
We’re creating a bustling neighbourhood with bars, restaurants, cafes and shops that’ll be open to anyone.
And loads of open spaces where you can come for free and eat your sandwiches at lunchtime and read a book or meet your mates for a beer.
Regeneration has to put people, not property, first. Put simply it’s the right thing to do.
But actually, we really believe it makes better development.
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