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Editions

New driver for the home straight

29 May 2018

New driver for the home straight Image

By Shane Scanlan

Lendlease’s new Victoria Harbour project director Edward McAuliffe is one of the few who can truly say they were here at the beginning.

He worked in finance for a bank at the time, so it’s a long way from where he is now. But he was here at the start.

“I remember being part of a bank delegation to the government developer in what is now AFL House,” Mr McAuliffe said. “It was probably about 2001 and there was a lot of negative sentiment at the time about apartment over-supply and affordability issues, so they were keen to tell the Docklands story.”

Mr McAuliffe recalls being impressed by the scale of the development. He also reflected that some things never change!

And now, nearly 20 years later, he has taken the wheel to complete the final buildings in the Victoria Harbour development. It turns out that Mr McAuliffe was a civil engineer before he was a development financier – a handy combination of skills to become employable within the development industry.

But, he said, his first love was architecture – another pertinent passion for someone in his position (his mum talked him out of architecture because of the slow economy in the 1990s).

He came to Melbourne soon after graduating from university in his native South Australia (yes, a Crows supporter!) and he found his way back to Docklands via working for other developers in Victoria and Queensland.

“I hope to be the final project manager here in Victoria Harbour,” he said.

Mr McAuliffe said 23 building had been finished and two more where under-construction, to be completed next year – leaving just six more to build. There is a site between the new ANZ building and 883 Collins St, which could take either a residential or commercial tower. And there are also five more residential towers to come for Collins Wharf.

But that won’t be the end of the story for Lendlease. Mr McAuliffe said community activation could only really happen once the cranes, scaffolds and hoardings came down, and there was plenty more to come.

“It’s then that we can undertake stronger and deeper activation. The workers here would like to see more diversity in the retail offering and residents would like to see an extension into the evenings and weekends.”

“The really exciting opportunity is to complete the community activation,” he said. “This will be the lasting legacy.”

Mr McAuliffe pointed to the popularity of Library at the Dock, the nearby community hub and family services facility as the developer’s contribution to date.

He said the temporary Knowledge Market would likely be extended for another 12 months and that new community facilities were being planned for Collins Wharf.

“The most rewarding aspect is to see how warming the community has embraced these services,” he said.

Mr McAuliffe explained that Lendlease had learned a lot from Docklands over its journey and had applied this knowledge in other developments in Australia and elsewhere.

Lendlease is clearly the best in Docklands at community building and hopes to reap some financial benefit from this as it completes its Collins Wharf towers.

Mr McAuliffe takes over the job from Tim Campbell who recently left to try his hand at working for himself. But he is not new to the area, having worked most recently on Lendlease’s Melbourne Quarter (MQ) development just down the road.

And, while Victoria Harbour has been a 20-year job, Melbourne Quarter only got going in 2016 and looks like being finished soon.

Mr McAuliffe said MQ would in all likelihood be finished even quicker if it wasn’t for the physical constraint of being limited to nine cranes at any one time!

But, as everyone knows, Rome wasn’t built in a day and Docklands is now growing into its full potential.

We all wish Mr McAuliffe the best in his new role in the best suburb of Melbourne.

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