Stirring words from the Marriott’s owner
In the building construction world, smart PR people usually control the messaging. You don’t hear much from the developers themselves.
Mohan Du, 34-year-old head of Capital Alliance, is a refreshing exception.
He is the man behind the new Marriott Hotel at The District and he spoke to Docklands News about the development.
Before the lockdown, Mohan went on the public record to criticise the way many residential towers in Melbourne actually operated.
“I had a big go at Airbnb,” Mohan said. “I’ve had an apartment for the last 10 years and you’re not signing up to live in a hotel.”
The bitter personal experience of living in a building with serviced apartments was the driving force behind his development at NewQuay.
“You’re sharing the lifts with people who are there for a party,” he said. “Let’s say on Level 10 your neighbour has an Airbnb. The thing that’s separating a party from a family is a plaster wall.”
Residential vertical transportation studies show that short-stay visitors use the lifts more than owner/occupiers who also pay a set amenity fee for facilities even though they use them less.
Capital Alliance dealt firmly with these issues in their new development. The Marriott opened last month and apartment dwellers began moving in in June and are now enjoying the benefits.
“In this development we’ve included a luxury five-star hotel in the building not scattered serviced apartments,” Mohan said. There are four separate lifts for the 189 rooms of the hotel and two for the 88 apartments.
Melbourne had only a handful of similar towers, he said, but the “concept is common in New York, Singapore and Hong Kong. I like to go to foreign cities and see how people live”.
The lotus-shaped building at District Docklands was specifically designed to knock Airbnb and short-stays on the head with a caveat on the titles. “We’ve banned them completely. We have special conditions in the sales contract.”
The result is a combination of owner-occupiers and normal long-term leases. “Ninety per cent are down-sizers. Most come from other apartments. You can’t sublet. It’s creating a little village.”
Residents don’t pay a fixed fee for amenities such as the gym or pool but per use. All amenities such as the infinity pool belong to the hotel. Residents can also use the hotel foyer to enter and exit the building.
“I’m proud of the fact that I live in an apartment,” Mohan said. “These little nuances are what matter.”
Growing up in the suburbs he’d always dreamed of having a city life, he said. “Blackburn today is a great area. Fifteen to 20 years ago it was a bit rough.”
Mohan has two small children under four and has been working at home like everyone else during the pandemic.
“It was difficult. There were delays. It’s not the fault of anyone. Grovelling isn’t going to get you anywhere,” he said.
Kids don’t understand work. He does his on the dining table in his Docklands penthouse. His dad made his money in livestock export, and he started out as a real estate agent. “We’re a young company and it’s not about being a sheep.” •