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Brian lifts the bar on Brockworth Place

Brian lifts the bar on Brockworth Place

The Aussie bloke in paint splattered old gear and dust in the short cropped hair, the one with a dimples and a strapped cracked finger, who has been working every day for months on site as 27 Brockworth Pace has undergone a complete transformation from student flats to stylish Melbourne-inspired contemporary apartments actually has an Armani suit packed away along with a high flying finance career in the UK and Australia.

For much of 2010 Brian Linehan has been working on his vision of turning the flats into something that’s a proven formula in Melbourne’s trendy St Kilda and Sydney’s central suburbs.

“I had this vision in my mind when my wife Lisa and I bought the block in April 2004. The eureka moment was when I realized I could turn the north facing driveways into decent sized courtyards, and when I understood that I was on a plane three weeks later to start work.”

“I’ve had more fun working on this development than I’ve had in decades,” Brian Linehan said.

He gave up his day job as a finance trader in Melbourne, put the covers over his city desk, and moved over into one of the units, engaging a team of tradesmen with a can-do attitude and learning on the job, everything from paint stripping to dealing with the myriad of council consents required.

Putting the right team together was a key part of his success. “I wanted the right crew with the right attitude and we’ve got a lot of camaraderie on the site. We bounce ideas off each other and every unit we work on someone will say, I think this is the best one, and we’ve all got our favourites.”

“Sometimes I had to tell the chaps to slow down while I caught up with them, and I’d research what they were talking about on the internet, and the next day I’d be up to speed and we could go forward so it’s been a fantastic learning curve for me.”

Added to which of course they went through the 4 September earthquake, which prompted Brian to make sure he had scaffolding on site anticipating a huge demand city-wide. He did think of putting a fake earthquake crack across the façade of the building to mark the time and place but that has yet to win approval from his project team, which is headed by Dave Tabak.

Brian did a prototype unit to start with, then upscaled everything to work in bulk on the six units – “it grew more like a beanstalk than a creeper” but he was driven by an enthusiasm to create clean simple contemporary apartments that he would have wanted to live in whilst working in London or Melbourne. Some ideas had been travelling with him for several years, others he got from researching show homes and many he got from years living and working in big metropolitan centres.

That proved the essential value of having space – and in this development he has created and carved out space, space and more space to give future residents a wealth of useable courtyard and open spaces.
Brian’s wife and partner Lisa has continued to live in Melbourne with their two daughters, but she had a strong influence on the kitchen and interior configuration.

However, the bean counter isn’t dead and buried within as he reels off the stats – 40,000 screws, 2.5 sq kms of gib board, 2 km of hardiboard sheeting, 5 kms of fencing – and 90 of products used were bought from businesses within 2 minutes drive.

The original block of six flats sits on 1012 m2 of Living Three land, backing onto the railway line which Brian sees as having the advantages of living next door to a vacant lot but in the other direction it’s less than a minute to walk to Hagley Park.

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