SHE is only 26 years old and the co-founder of one of the city's top town planning companies. Now, Nicole Willis (pictured below) is putting her consultancy experience to the test with plans to launch the city's first micro urban village in the heart of the CBD.
Envi, planned for the corner of Lenneberg and Meron Streets in Southport, has received council development approval for a combined subdivision of nine freehold terrace homes.
The lots will range in size from 60sqm to 85sqm and Willis says it aims to leverage off the Southport revitalisation with the delivery of the light rail, the emergence of Chinatown, the preparation for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the billions of dollars invested in the nearby health and knowledge precinct.
Willis says the reason behind the development was to offer an alternative living environment to the common high-rise apartments developed in the CBD.
"High-rises tend to be the typical CBD living type and we really saw there was an opportunity for something quite different, which you see in other major cities around the world with terrace-style row housing," says Willis.
"Terraces are such an amazing product because they give people an ability to buy house and land packages within an urban setting, without any body corporate, and the freedom to do what they would like to do with their own dwelling.
"We are achieving similar density to what you get in a high-rise but in a much more compact, urban form, and our dwelling sizes are the same."
Willis says it is an exciting venture because the Gold Coast planning scheme has never allowed this sort of development before, however the PDA and new planning scheme has made it possible.
House and land packages range in price from $300,000 for a one-bedroom home to $500,000 for a three-bedroom home.
Willis today started calling for expressions of interest from purchasers and will next week tender for the build.
Willis, who usually makes a living on the other side of the desk assisting developers with their proposed plans, says it has been both an exciting and nerve-wracking experience.
"Normally I have only ever got development approval for clients using their money and they are the ones taking the risk," says Willis.
"But this time I am taking the risk of getting the approval because nothing like this has ever been done before."
Willis says she is confident in the investment and wants to lead the way in modern architecture at an affordable price.
"People on the Gold Coast like doing the same thing because it is tried and tested as soon as something has been done and you can see the model, my clients tend to gravitate towards that because you reduce those risks with the unknown," says Willis.
"We are hoping that by leading the way and doing this pilot project it makes more people realise that it is profitable and it can be done."
The development is expected to attract owner-occupiers whether they be first-home buyers or baby-boomer downsizers.
Willis says she wants to the shake the trend of young buyers purchasing homes to rent, not to occupy.
"I know a lot of my friends are most of the time buying a house or unit, not to live in but to rent it out, because they don't actually want to live in it," says Willis.
"I think it is a really interesting phenomenon that my generation is getting into the property market but not necessarily to live in it, and I think Envi will give people a reason to buy into the property market and actually live in it."
Buyers have the opportunity to style the interior of their home with the architect and builder including colour choices and wall placements.
Envi is a joint venture between Willis and Amy Degenhart, of DegehartSHEDD Architecture.
Willis is the co-founder of Taylor Willis Town Planners which provides town planning and project management services to business clients including Westpac, Retail Food Group, AHC Limited, JAX Tyres, Battery World and APP Corp.
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