$95m transformation of RSL club tip of Hyecorp iceberg

With numerous multimillion dollar developments under way and in the pipeline, the managing director of Sydney’s Hyecorp Property Group discusses the art of prestige development.

Stephen Abolakian
Stephen Abolakian has a rich corporate resume, having had leadership roles across property development, finance, capital raising, operations and human resources.

The biggest RSL club on Sydney’s North Shore has been given the green light for a $95-million transformation to include luxury senior living. 

After almost 10 years of planning, Club Willoughby will be demolished to make way for a three-storey club to include restaurants, a cafe, meeting spaces and function room and 126 luxury apartments, 102 of which are earmarked for over-55-year-olds.

In Lane Cove, the 65-apartment Kira complex now under construction is the eighth development in Lane Cove for the Hyecorp Property Group in as many years.

The man leading this prolific output of high-class developments is Hyecorp managing director Stephen Abolakian, an accomplished executive with experience across property development, finance, capital raising, operations and human resources. 

With the Club Willoughby development expected to begin construction later this year, taking about three years to complete, API Magazine took the opportunity to chat with the driving force behind Hyecorp Property Group.

Kira, Leah, Elena, Eva, Ariana, Sevana, Lora, and Eleeza. What is the story behind the names of these multi-million-dollar Sydney developments? 

Many of our early projects were named after female family members, who all coincidentally ended in “A” and we decided to continue the tradition with the naming now being recognised by the communities in which we build. 

Family is integral to Hyecorp, so it’s very special to continue with this tradition.

What are the key ingredients needed to deliver the best developments? 

The best apartment developments offer a high-quality build, luxurious finishes, a design that maximises liveability, technology to future-proof the apartments, sought-after amenities such as rooftop entertaining areas, a cinema or a luxe private dining room and a great location offering walkability to transport links, schools, cafes and restaurants.

By focusing on these key areas, the development will stand the test of time for our residents.

Your projects seem to embrace a range of design styles, incorporating contemporary, art deco and other styles. How does the choice of overall design theme come to fruition?  

We are proud that each of our apartment projects is unique whilst still complying with planning regulations.

We are able to achieve this through our innovative in-house design team who keep abreast of changing design trends, new materials, new colours and other innovations.

With such high profile projects, there must always be a need to differentiate yourselves from other developers. How important is it to constantly evolve in terms of new technologies and trends in regard to design, construction, and even finance structuring? 

We pride ourselves on our ability to constantly evolve and do things differently to other developers through new technologies and construction techniques.

We have embraced new technology with the recent launch of our Hyecorp App that allows purchasers to design their own kitchen, which we then build to their specifications.

The Hyecorp App provides the sophisticated buyer with all the tools to help them look at the project in 360-degree view, assess floor plans and price ranges which assists them in making a well thought out decision.

A year and half ago, CoreLogic data showed that 60 per cent of Sydney off-the-plan apartments were worth lower at settlement (53 per cent of Melbourne units received a lower valuation than the contract price). How is the off-the-plan market faring now?

The Sydney market for off-the-plan apartments is very strong given the record low interest rates, limited supply of quality new apartments, strong demand from local upgraders and recent government stimulus initiatives. 

Is the resurgence of property markets affecting construction activity for the unit market? 

The resurgence of property markets will see more apartment projects commence construction and more cranes on the skyline, which will flow through to more apartment construction activity and demand for trades.

At Hyecorp we mostly use the same tradies on all our projects, which ensures continuity of work for the trades and a high quality of build for Hyecorp.

When prices were subdued, developers adopted all sorts of incentives to lure buyers, including offering cash backs and huge discounts, while Hyecorp offered buyers flexibility to customise their apartments even during the construction phase. Are developers, including your team, still offering these lures or has the market shift towards being more demand-driven impacted these sorts of incentives?

Nearly a year ago we introduced “Live Your Way” a unique offering that is also an industry first allowing our customers to work with our interior designer and customise their apartment when they purchase in the early stages off-the-plan.

It has been a very popular initiative with our customers and the service is here to stay. Traditionally people purchasing an apartment off-the-plan can choose between two colour schemes while those building a house have the ability to fully customise their home.  

This breakthrough initiative allows our customers full flexibility in their design and finishes, which is uniquely available through Hyecorp as we are the architect, developer, builder and interior designer on all of our projects, allowing us to seamlessly offer the service.  

Your company has a rich tradition it seems of supporting community organisations and charities. How important is this aspect of your business to you?  

We are very proud of the contribution we have made in our communities in Sydney over the past three decades and it’s in our DNA to give back to our wonderful communities.  

We give through Community Grants, donations, sponsorships and volunteering and have supported more than 35 community organisations across Lane Cove, Greenwich, Willoughby, Ryde and Ku-ring-gai. 

What are Hyecorp’s plans for the future? Any plans to go national?  

It is our vision to continue to do great developments in great locations across Sydney.

One day we hope to go national but as there is a plethora of opportunities across Sydney that is our focus right now, including the new Heart of Willoughby project. 

Can you tell us a bit about how an average working day for you might unfold, using the term ‘average’ loosely?  

Every day I wake before 5am when my wife and two daughters are still asleep to enjoy a coffee and take the opportunity to do blue-sky planning and prepare for the day ahead, while it is peacefully quiet.   

I then try to fit in some exercise either going for a walk around the beautiful Lower North Shore or going to the gym.  

I’ll then catch up with family for breakfast before embarking on a full day of meetings.  

I try to be home by 6pm each day to have quality family time with my wife and two daughters.   

When everyone is asleep, I log on and complete any unfinished work and prepare for the next day. 

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