Matt’s big passion for building quality

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Matt James... “I like being able to take a piece of land and create something that’s a quality built product.” Photo by Andrew Finch
Matt James… “I like being able to take a piece of land and create something that’s a quality built product.” Photo by Andrew Finch
HE avoids suits, loves sneakers and had dreams of being a musician while growing up, but Matt James, co-founder of boutique property development company Crafted, has found his niche.

“I like being able to take a piece of land and create something that’s a quality built product, with high-end materials, finishes and building quality,” he says.

“This job gives me the opportunity to do something special. It’s not about living in boxes; our designs are bespoke for every project and respond to the site.”

Matt started Crafted with Peter Sarris, a former colleague at Sydney’s Macquarie Bank, in 2012 after nearly 10 years working in both its real estate and investment banking groups.

“While working in property development and finance at Macquarie Bank, I found that I really enjoyed property – it intrigued me,” he says.

“I was involved in real-estate development projects across Australia, established real estate equity funds and provided structured financing for a variety of projects, including airports and theme parks.”

He says he was also able to invest in Canberra, as the equal joint-venture partner with the Molonglo Group for the Property Council and Australian Institute of Architects 2012 Project of the Year, The Apartments at NewActon South.

Matt says he eventually started to feel the pull back to his home town of Canberra.

“Ultimately Peter and I wanted to be more creative and flexible,” Matt says. “We are both from Canberra, so we felt we understood the market here.

“It’s been nice to come home to Canberra, it’s such a lovely place – I know people complain about the weather but I love it.

“It’s also really convenient here and a great place to do business.”

Matt says that Crafted is focused on a bespoke and considered design approach to every project, as well as environmental sustainability and excellence in quality – in the delivery of large-scale residential and commercial development projects in Canberra.

Their projects to date include the Prince in Kingston Foreshore, with The Brindabella, in Greenway, and Neon House in Civic also underway.

“We bought the site in Kingston Foreshore about 18 months ago with 160 apartments, and we have sold all but 15,” he says.

“We wanted the Prince to be our flagship project, and from there we’ve moved into The Brindabella, with the key difference of density – here we have 170 buildings, 31 townhouses and 144 apartments over 2.6 hectares.”

Matt says that when he and Peter were looking at competing projects at the time, they were much more urban in style.

“We decided that we wanted to do the opposite at The Brindabella, as we had the luxury of all this land on the edge of the Murrumbidgee River corridor and nature reserve,” he says.

The new project in Greenway will feature uninterrupted views over the Brindabellas and a central village green inspired by the secret gardens in London’s Notting Hill.

“We’re trying to create the highest-quality product in the south, with a Scandinavian palette of dry pressed brick, metal, glass, off-form concrete and stone, and an average energy efficiency rating of 7.7 stars,” he says.

Matt says that the 10-staff strong Crafted is a fun company to work for.

“I love the flexibility of running my own business, and it gives me the chance to create and build something special.”

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Kathryn Vukovljak
Kathryn Vukovljak is a "CityNews" journalist with a particular interest in homes and gardens.

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