While long a popular model in the US, UK and Europe, Canberra is a relative newcomer to the Build to Rent market.
Despite being a newer concept in Australia, this asset class has drawn increasing interest from developers in residential real estate.
It’s a shift recognised by Independent Property Group, which has named Nicole Short as head of a new arm of the business – Commercial Leasing and Build to Rent Asset Management.
Ms Short said Build to Rent was bound for success in the nation’s capital.
“I think the market conditions are right for it now in Canberra for a number of reasons.”
Ms Short knows the Build to Rent model well.
“I’m from the US where Build to Rent – or ‘multi-family housing’ as it’s also known – has been around for a long time,” she said.
“I’m very familiar with how the model works and creating a community around those kinds of assets.”
Build to Rent apartment complexes generally have single owners, often the developers who designed and constructed them.
The Suburban Land Agency (SLA) said this type of housing could establish high-quality rental homes that offered great places to live, provided greater security to owners and renters with flexible tenures, included affordable rental options and generated long-term, steady revenue for the owner.
Ms Short said she was excited to work alongside developers to run the assets and manage the facilities in a relatively new market for the ACT.
She said there were basically two Build to Rent models, both of which were ultimately about “creating a sense of community” in urban living situations.
One focused on addressing housing affordability. While only “high-level” thinking at this stage, Ms Short would explore long-term leases and different models that encompassed high-quality and affordable amenity.
The higher-end models created a fantastic asset and offered ancillary services that renters could opt into, such as cleaning, dog walking, child minding and events.
“We’re currently looking at what these different models might look like, how to make them successful and how to build communities around them,” she said.
“That’s where my hospitality background comes in handy.”
Ms Short also brings sales, marketing, pre-openings and senior management skills to the new role.
She said one of her career highlights was working from the ground up at MGM Resorts International. She was also an integral part of the pre-opening team of CityCentre Development as a national sales manager for ARIA Resort & Casino.
“Start-ups are agile and exciting places to work,” she said.
“You can make change and if it’s within the right business, I like that those changes can benefit not only the owner but also the community.”
After moving to Canberra in 2010, Ms Short became the National Gallery of Australia’s sponsorship manager before transitioning back into hospitality. She worked for Molonglo Group, first as director of sales and marketing for Hotel Hotel then as general manager.
Following the conversion of Hotel Hotel to Ovolo Nishi, Ms Short was appointed general manager of the Kambri Precinct at the Australian National University (ANU). She worked for Wiltshire + Dimas, and with developer ColonySix and the Australian National University to establish and run the precinct.
“We set that up so it was a very mixed youth precinct and it was a new model at the time for a university,” she said.
“There were events and activations for student life, but also to support the retail sector, and it invited the wider Canberra community.
“So it was not dissimilar to Build to Rent. It was also about building community around that asset and connecting the wider city to ANU.”
Ms Short said her new role with Independent combined her strengths and passions.
“It’s going to have the hospitality component looking after those who live in the asset, working with developers, ongoing sales and marketing, and the pre start-up factor.
“It’s also creating a sense of belonging in the community through events, activations and product offerings.
“I’m very excited. We’ve already started brainstorming about what success in the Build to Rent space could look like in Canberra.”
For more information about Independent Property Group’s new Commercial Leasing and Build to Rent Asset Management arm, visit the website.