Portrait – The Collaborators

The trio behind new real assets firm, Belingbak speak to Woods Bagot about pioneering a new form of asset creation and choosing collaborators based on ‘chemistry’. 

Jack Montgomery, Matthew Rawlinson, Robert McLean

To talk with Belingbak is to see an altogether different vision of property development – millennial faces and an entirely different vocabulary.  

The new developer has established themselves as an alternative to the legacy’ and ‘institutional property pedigrees of the three founders: Jack Montgomery formerly of Mirvac and GPT; Robert McLean of Brookfield and Multiplex; and Matthew Rawlinson of Mirvac.  

“We saw an open field to pioneer new paths for asset management,” says Montgomery.  

 

“Commercial smarts and cultural awareness can go hand-in-hand, but it’s hard to pivot when you’re in deep-rooted systems”.  

We knew we had to be nimble in order to seize opportunities as they arose and innovate across multiple sectors,” adds Rawlinson.

A big part of that is identifying changing shifts in demographics and dislocations in markets.”  

Belingbak made a splashy debut onto the Sydney property scene, acquiring and amalgamating seven adjoining properties along Pitt Street in Sydney’s CBD to create the singular 1,140 square meter site that has become the 372 Pitt Street development. Since then, the developer has spread their wings, working on properties across inner Sydney, Byron Bay and Perth as well as establishing a Western Australia branch. 

Rear: Robert McLean, Derek Scholes, Jack Montgomery Front: Jason Fraser, Matthew Rawlinson

Belingbak describe themselves as sector agnostic, aiming at the full spectrum of industrial and accommodation types, what they call ‘Sheds & Beds’. But within this breadth is a focus on the ‘first to market’ concepts within each sector – ideas that push a typology forward and elevate urban design and sustainable paradigms.

Our mixed-use experience allows us to apply emerging thinking to each sector,” says McLean. “Whilst being sector agnostic, we emphasise problem solving and innovation across our work. We don’t want to be formula based or ever feel we are in a comfort zone.”  

Cognizance of indigeneity is incorporated into Belingbak’s very ethos – a priority even when it was a glimmer in the three guys’ eyes over a beer at the local brewery.  

As a property developer in Australia, your first principle is you are building on Indigenous land,” says Montgomery.

“We approach each site as custodians rather than with a sense of ownership.”  

It is a foregrounding that begins with the developer’s very name. Belingbak is the First Nations word for growth and the name of Montgomery’s family home that was built around a heritage tree. 

The trio is already in the midst of forming their Reconciliation Action Plan and formalizing the practices that are already governing their business.

As with their collaborators on Pitt Street— Melbourne-based developer ICD and Woods Bagot — Belingbak put large stock in the likeability and value-alignment of their partners.

“There is no triviality to the chemistry,” says Montgomery. We want to feel a kinship with our partners and we should be able to envision the longevity of that relationship beyond the singular project.”

 

With Woods Bagot for example we felt we were working with people who were also pushing and pulling at the edges of what can be achieved within typologies. A trust developed from this commonality.”

 

Project principal on 372 Pitt Street, Jason Fraser says that it’s a mutual admiration club: 

 “To work with people who’ve established their business on a foundation of pioneering and cultural sensitivity is a joy and a rarity.”  

Talk to Jason Fraser about commercial architecture

The Project:

 

372 Pitt Street

Belingbak’s 372 Pitt Street, a joint-venture with Melbourne-based ICD Property, and architecturally led by Woods Bagot will be a significant addition to an emerging part of Sydney. The project will provide important activation to the surrounding streets, respond to an important context and deliver an intertwined concept for the future of living and leisure through a pioneering market hotel and residential offering. Pitt Street is among a number of planned tower projects that respond to the Sydney CBD ‘Tech Corridor’.  The building will rise almost 160m into the harbour city’s skyline from the 1140sq m amalgamated site. Topping the tower will be 28 apartments sitting above 304 hotel rooms with a rich and varied ground-floor precinct. 

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