June 8, 2014

Johnson Property Group is one of New South Wales’ largest private developers of residential land. “We have enough land to build 7,000 houses,” Founder and Managing Director Keith Johnson reports. “And it’s all zoned and approved.”

These holdings are strategically located in key growth areas throughout the state and provide the team with all the land needed to create their award winning master-planned communities.

The Developments

Johnson Property Group is well known for building vibrant and sustainable master planned-communities in picturesque locations. The company currently boasts five major developments: Trinity Point, Watagan Park, Vermont, Wahroonga Estate, and Bellbird North.

Trinity Point is a luxury village located on the shores of Lake Macquarie, Australia’s largest salt water lake. The site is just under an hour’s drive from Sydney and about 40 minutes from Newcastle. After enduring a decade of red tape, Trinity Point has finally received the necessary approvals and construction is underway. Once completed, the community will boast 189 residential lots and medium-density housing, 150 tourism and residential apartments, a 188-berth marina, restaurants, café and outdoor dining facilities. There will also be a 300-seat conference centre, serviced meeting rooms, public boardwalks and other community facilities. Throughout the planning and construction processes, great care is being taken to make Trinity Point one of the most ecologically sustainable and environmentally responsible marinas in the nation.

Watagan Park is a 365 hectare estate located in the foothills of the Watagan Mountains. The North Cooranbong location has been classified as a major urban release area, and the new community offers the growing population a tranquil retreat. Ideally situated right beside Watagans National Park, the development has been aptly dubbed Nature’s Playground. Furthermore, Johnson Property Group is preserving one third of the development’s natural bushland to ensure that the community remains a nature lover’s paradise. Watagan Park will also have a number of community facilities including playing fields, a cricket pitch, a skate park, a community centre and boardwalks. The 2,500 lot development is only minutes away from Avondale College and School, and is close to all of the amenities and activities that Lake Macquarie has to offer.

Vermont, located on the Hawkesbury River at Pitt Town, offers residents both urban living and peaceful natural surroundings. The 659 lot community boasts a boat ramp and riverfront parking, picnic areas, walking and bicycle trails, sporting facilities, and expansive parklands. And of course, the Hawkesbury River provides an array of water activities, including fishing, water skiing, and boating. Johnson Property is committed to maintaining the site’s natural beauty and protecting the environment. “We’ve been on the cutting edge of sustainable communities,” Mr Johnson shares. “We are leading the industry in that way.”

In fact, the team has launched an exciting new water recycling program at Vermont and has built a specially designed recycled water station. “We were the first in New South Wales to get our utility license for recycling water with our partner Flow Systems. And that is proving to be very successful. The recycling there [at Vermont] is a real showpiece. Developers from all over New South Wales come to look at it.” The new water recycling initiative has been so successful that the company plans to expand the program to other sites soon.

Bellbird North is located in the Lower Hunter Valley, nestled among vineyards in the heart of Australian coal country. Two hours north of Sydney and less than an hour west of Newcastle’s CBD, the site has been named a strategic residential development precinct by the NSW Government. The development totals 496 hectares, 240 of which Johnson Property Group either has options on or owns. The company’s holdings will provide enough land for 1,651 residential lots, as well as retail and commercial space.

Wahroonga Estate is a major redevelopment project located on Sydney’s Upper North Shore, 22 kilometres north-west of the CBD. Johnson Property Group’s plans for the site were recently approved after extensive community consultation, and the first stage of redevelopment is currently underway. The district’s redevelopment is based around a $347 million expansion of the Sydney Adventist Hospital and the relocation of a 3,500 square metre Faculty of Nursing, both of which should be completed in 2014. To support the hospital’s expansion, multiple educational and community facilities and residential dwellings will be constructed, including an aged care facility, a 104-bed hostel, 41 new nursing home beds, an 800 student school for grades k-12, 240 student beds, 2,000 square metres of retail space, and 16,000 square metres of commercial space.

The Company

Keith Johnson began his career as a residential real estate agent with a knack for obtaining sites for development. “I started small developments myself and built up to the bigger projects,” Mr Johnson recalls. As his experience and reputation grew, so did his success. In 2005, after winning the Champion of Champions small business award eight years in a row, Mr Johnson sold his real estate business and made the leap to full-time property developer.

Johnson Property Group has enjoyed steady growth and strong sales ever since. Part of the secret, Mr Johnson believes, is staying actively involved in the business, rather than passing the buck to someone else. “We are not run by a public company or a board,” Mr Johnson points out. “We are hands on. Very hands on.” For example, Mr Johnson makes it a point to meet with lawmakers personally to ensure that plans are approved. “With government – any government – I like to meet with the decision makers myself,” he explains. “I don’t employ lobbyists. I also go to all the public community meetings. I get involved hands-on with the communities and the rezonings. I follow through right from the beginning to the end, when I watch people move into their home.”

This level of involvement requires years of commitment, he adds, as most of the company’s projects last between ten and fifteen years. “All of our projects are long term; we have to be very focused.” Furthermore, the team isn’t just developing a few buildings; they are responsible for entire communities. “When you are doing master planned subdivisions, you’ve got a whole community that you are looking after. It takes persistence. You can never give up. The drive and the commitment to do it right is one of the most important things.”

Johnson Property Group expects its contractors to maintain a strong work ethic as well. Fortunately, the team enjoys long term relationships with trustworthy contractors throughout New South Wales. These relationships also allow the company to utilise local talent whenever possible. “We like to work as much as we can with local contractors and make sure that we are supporting the local communities,” Mr Johnson explains. “All the way through planning and engineering, it’s all localised.”

Long term success also requires the ability to read industry trends – and act on them. In fact, the company first became involved in water recycling because Mr Johnson recognised a lack of government leadership in that area. “We got into recycling because of the lack of government’s commitment to infrastructure,” he recalls. “We have overcome that problem by doing the recycling.”

All of the effort involved in development is worth it, Mr Johnson insists, simply to see the joy that families experience when buying their dream home. In fact, a core company goal is helping families realise their dreams of home ownership. “Many years ago I started helping young couples into their first homes,” Mr Johnson remembers. “And we are still working really hard to get young people in their first home.” Johnson Property Group provides guidance to all of its clients regarding things that need to be considered when buying your first home, financial management and building wealth through real estate.

Fortunately, more and more families are realising their dream of home ownership, both in New South Wales and throughout Australia. “The market is very strong at the moment; it is as strong as I have seen it in the last decade. We have been preselling land in all of our projects.” The future is bright for future homeowners – and for Johnson Property Group. “We have got enough land in NSW to build 7,000 new homes,” Mr Johnson points out. “That is going to keep us busy for quite a few years.”

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