Since retiring from the board of Mirvac in June, Adrian Fini is still making an impact on the Perth property scene.
AT the launch of the latest plans to revamp the Old Treasury Building precinct early last month, Mirvac Group WA chief executive Evan Campbell said the concept could not have gotten off the ground without the work of Adrian Fini.
Although he brushes it off as simply providing a better outcome for Perth, Mr Fini admitted his work over 11 years to align the interests of the state government, the City of Perth, the Public Trustees Office and the Anglican Diocese was “a bit like herding cats”.
Mr Fini’s group FJM Equities will be responsible for the 99-year lease and redevelopment of the heritage buildings; international hotel group Aman Resorts will run the hotel; and Mirvac Group will construct a 35-storey office tower to underpin the development.
Mr Fini said the project had the potential to become truly iconic.
“The objective here is to deliver what we are hoping will become Australia’s best quality boutique hotel,” he said.
“Aman are very well experienced in working with heritage buildings, from the Summer Palace in Beijing they are the operator of, to the oldest hotel in Asia, in Sri Lanka
“They’ve worked inside heritage buildings on many occasions and have a high level of respect for them.
“We think that will deliver a new base for high-quality accommodation in Perth, and for Australia.”
But the Old Treasury Building is not the only major property project Mr Fini is pursuing as he enters what he calls his “busy retirement”.
Mr Fini formally retired from the Mirvac Board in June this year, giving him more time to concentrate on his private investments, through privately owned property development and investment firm FJM Equities.
FJM Equities is co-owned between Mr Fini and property entrepreneurs Barry Jones and David Mack, who formerly traded under the name Criterion Group.
“On one level we say we are retired and property investors, but we are still happy to use our knowledge and skills in some new projects, and we’ve been quite selective about the types of projects we are going into,” Mr Fini told WA Business News.
“We are still doing development, but we’re selective about the types of things that we do, the majority are long-term investments.
“We’re not endeavouring to build a corporation, what we’re trying to do with the projects that we are putting together is we’re trying to put together virtual developers.
“We’re putting teams together to win that project and we’re trying to manage that delivery process through putting the right quality of teams or different corporations to create a virtual company, and we’re doing that specifically for each type of project.”
Current FJM projects include leading the consortium that was awarded preferred developer status for the Knutsford Precinct near Fremantle in August, and the consortium appointed to deliver 10 hectares of housing in Karratha’s suburb of Tambrey.
FJM has also been named as the preferred proponent, with Broad Construction, to develop the new $80 million home for the Port Hedland Port Authority.
Mr Fini said the decision to sell the Fini Retirement village business to the Babcock & Brown group for $180 million in 2007 allowed FJM to pursue developments without any reliance on the banks.
“We’re basically un-geared, we don’t go to the market looking for equity, we bring people in who we think can add value to the project,” Mr Fini said.
“At Knutsford Street, Georgiou Group is also an equity participant, so that consortium might create the equity.
“We’ve got another long-term partner of mine, Terry Leo, who has been a long-term resident and successful business person in Karratha, he will become an equity participant in our Tambray project.”
FJM equities director Tim Mack, who acts as general manager for the group, said the company’s focus turned from investment to development after Mr Fini officially came on board in 2007.
“Since Adrian has become involved in the last couple of years we’ve turned more to looking at developments given his development background and his skills and experience,” Mr Mack said.
“We’ve seen more opportunity in the development area than we have in investments.
“We’re still active in looking at investment property but where we’ve had more success in recent times and seen more value has been looking at development opportunities.”
Nevertheless, FJM Equities still jointly holds a number of hospitality venues across the metro area, including the Claremont, Leederville and Rosemount hotels, and the Indian Ocean Brewing Company at Mindarie Marina.
One of Mr Fini’s latest hospitality-related ventures is co-ownership in Justin Bell’s gourmet burger chain Jus Burgers, which is preparing to add Fremantle and Northbridge to its Leederville and Subiaco stores.
“We make sure it goes to the right spot and make sure the fundamentals are correct,” he said.
“We’re joint owners with (Mr Bell), and he is the driving force behind it at the end of the day.
“Our expertise in property makes sure it fits in the right spot, in the right demographic and the right location at the same time.”
And if that’s all not enough to keep Mr Fini busy, he remains a director of Little World Beverages, and is still pursuing development opportunities with his father, Tony, who launched the Fini Constructions business in 1956.
Their latest venture is a proposal to develop up to 25,000 square metres of office space in Stirling, to take advantage of the state government’s push to relocate 40,000-60,000sqm of government offices to locations outside the CBD.