As you walk into Luke Berry’s office, the word ‘Optimism’ is written on the wall in every language possible.
“The environment we want to create for our staff is one that allows them to shine, challenge themselves in the right way and be optimistic about what they are creating with us at work. We believe there is never a bad idea and we often say ‘It’s no use having a good idea unless you’re willing to do something with it and make it a great one’, so every day it’s ‘Welcome to optimism – feel free to challenge yourself and be as innovative as you can.’”
From country boy to Co-founder and International Director of Sales & Marketing, Luke Berry’s optimism and innovative brilliance has now certainly taken flight across the globe. Third.i have transacted more than $2billion of residential, commercial, and mixed-use developments across the UK and Australia most of which have been sold out before construction commenced. The group currently have more than $3billion of work in the pipeline and they also have offices/operations in Singapore and are soon looking to expand into Hong Kong.
“Internationally people find us Australians quite unique. We work hard down here and although we have one of the best property systems in the world, we also have one of the hardest to navigate from a property development point of view. In the UK, they have a very similar market and are also experiencing similar housing shortage issues to Australia, however the key difference is that both the UK government and financial systems are more willing to engage with the private sector and co-invest with businesses like ours to create housing. The roadblocks that we have in Australia such as pre-sales and foreign ownership are simply not present in the UK. Australian Developers are conditioned to navigate these challenges on their own, but in the UK, the Government will buy off the plan at launch and banks will allow more property to be sold to foreign investors”.
As you can imagine this is a game changer for us and we are building our UK business based on the Australian way of doing things. With less restrictions we are amplifying our growth and ‘so far, so good’. It seems the ‘establishment’ are getting blown away by our approach and capability and hopefully this continues into the future, and we can continue to be successful over there”.
Graphite Square – Vauxhall Walk, London UK
“The design, the architecture, the way our buyers experience buying off the plan, everything we do at Third.i has that flair of innovative brilliance. ‘Creating legacies, we are proud of through innovative brilliance” has been our tagline since we started the business so it’s very important to us and I believe it is a one of our greatest keys to success.”
Luke’s passion for property, building and attention to detail started at his family roots in Gunnedah, Country NSW. His father was a carpenter, and his grandfather and great grandfather operated a large-scale home builder and hardware in Gosford NSW, so property and construction are in Luke’s DNA.
As such he always enjoyed building and wanted to venture into real estate eventually, but loved marketing, so when he was 24, he started his first business importing innovative marketing products with his now business partner Bob Huxley.
“Bob was working in real estate at the time, and we always had the intention to carry through that same innovative brilliance into our property business.”
And that they certainly have with Third.i now an industry recognised and award-winning developer both in Australia and throughout Asia.
“As we launched Third.i Group, Ron was working as a financial planner and as soon as we secured our first project, he joined us to focus on finance and ops. He has since led the business and helped establish many of the joint ventures and funding structures that Third.i now employs with business partners both here in Australia and overseas.”
In typical Third.i fashion, this company has grown, transformed, and diversified into many different sectors and they have done it with flair and carefully considered risk. Starting out in Australian residential, their journey has led them into the commercial sector, retirement homes, NDIS housing and more, across both Australia and the UK. To name a few, Graphite Square London was crowned the fastest selling project in the United Kingdom, Mereweather Golf Club is being re-developed into a boutique collection of over 55’s residences, and the Dairy Farmers Towers in Newcastle will soon become a new iconic residential landmark across the city skyline.
Dairy Farmers Towers Residential Development – Newcastle
Luke spoke about each of these projects with equal enthusiasm however the following were some that stood out from the rest.
Warada on Walker is a particularly brilliant and innovative project in North Sydney where Third.i identified great possibility amongst adversity. Being conceived during the bushfires and designed during the pandemic, the Waratah flower was used in their marketing to symbolize the beauty of the building and the resilience of not only the workplace after the pandemic but also of society. A Waratah flower blooming shows how we too have been revived, being more aligned with the needs of humanity and the world we live in today. This commercial project is designed to be a part of that new world.
Warada on Walker is “a resilient and resounding workplace for the future…re-inventing flexibility and sustainability with unrivalled workplace amenity”
“It has been a challenge getting people back to the workplace however I think we’ve cracked the code on creating an office that is going to inspire people. We’ve created a brand, and a compelling story together with genuine incentives to return to the office. We’re creating a 1500sqm fitness playground which is free 2 days a week to the employees of the tenants. We’ve addressed health and wellness, ESG, food & beverage, collaborative workspaces, and business flex on their leases. We’ve created this to get staff excited and change the way people think about how offices should work.”
Warada on Walker – North Sydney
The Kurraba residences would also have to be one of Australia’s most ideally positioned and perfectly curated residential projects, with front row views of the Sydney Harbour. The project was a collaboration of star talents SJB, Matheison Architects and Danger Barin Smith who, together with Third.i and Phoenix Property Investors created a world-class lifestyle opportunity in Kurraba Point. Excitingly, the master residence, a 640sqm apartment is listed for sale at $50million that will soon set a likely set a record for this part of Sydney.
Architects SJB articulated it perfectly, “…it’s that confident, well-dressed building that sits on the headland and engages with the landscape….”
In addition to creating high-end masterpieces, cutting edge marketing campaigns, and working towards combatting climate change, Luke Berry is also committed to creating one of Australia’s largest networks of Specialist Disability Accommodation along the East Coast.
“As a developer you have opportunity but with that comes responsibility. When you build what we build it’s there for generations so if you don’t think the way we think and leave the world a better place, then we’re not doing right by our children and their children. That legacy we want to create and leading by example is something we’re very passionate about.”
Luke tells the story about a 19-year-old boy who broke his back in an accident and was living in a nursing home due to there being no alternative suitable accommodation available to him. One of Third.i’s SDA apartments gave him back his independence in an environment that someone of his age could enjoy living in. So profound was that experience, that it led Third.i into committing to creating 150 SDA properties by 2025 and so far, they are 50% of the way through…
Driven, diverse, on-purpose, passionate and creative. Many things come to mind when you think of Third.i. They are a developer that are making a difference not only to their own pockets but to lives around them, taking ‘innovative brilliance’ to another level with each project they embark on; each time, seeking to discover and create something new that distinguishes them from the rest whilst creating a positive legacy.
“I’m always looking for different angles, and to challenge ourselves to do better.” Luke states. “I’ve always thought on my feet and like to think that Ron, Bob and myself are good at thinking outside the square we live in, because one of our pet hates is hearing the words ‘we can’t do that as that’s just not how it’s done’. We love bringing in different types and levels of thinking and remaining competitive and challenging ourselves to be innovative. It’s just the way we are built.”
Kurraba Residences – Kurraba Point