The Influencers: Jonathan Hallinan

Market Insights
9 years ago
8 minutes

Jonathan Hallinan is a personality - but the man behind one of Melbourne's top development companies, BPM, has a lot to say regarding, design, branding and building relationships. Jonathan Hallinan, now 39, is one of the most succesful and praised boutique property developers in the nation. BPM's latest project, Shadowplay, is a game-changer, and with an emphasis on class and style, reiterated by proposed rooftop champagne bars and hotel lobby, presenting a true reflection of Hallinan's ideals.'s editor, Jordan Taylor-Bartels, engaged in a chat with Jonathan about BPM, fashion-houses and perfume - and what it all has to do with property development.

What is Jonathan Hallinan’s BPM?

What BPM is now, or what we are establishing now, is a business that is more than just being an apartment developer. We are a branded apartment developer, we are very much loyal to our brand, and we are doing many things to enable people to attach themselves to our brand, or buy into the world of BPM before they may be ready to buy an apartment. We’re creating a fragrance line, at the base of many of our buildings we have coffee houses going in, we are doing a champagne bar at the top of Shadowplay, we’re establishing our first hotel in the first nine floors of Shadowplay - and this is all part of our business model moving forward that no matter what stage of life you’re at, you can buy into BPM - whether that be buying a coffee, the fragrance, staying at the hotel, or having a champagne at one of our bars.

So this creates a familiarity between a potential customer and BPM?

Yes, or if we have built apartments they would like to one day live in, they can attach themselves to our brand. If you purchase a coffee from our coffee shop, it will still have the same feel as living in one of our buildings, effectively the same feel as one of our apartments do - it is all one brand.

The content of BPM’s latest print publication resonates fashion and design, do they tie in to what you believe?

There is no doubt that the best fashion houses in the world certainly have their high end product that is often unattainable, but they always have ways other product that allows others to attach themselves to their brand. I’ve really learnt a lot from these companies by watching the way they do things - and certainly draw a lot of inspiration from them. And most certainly from the hotel aspect of it all - I am really inspire by it all - specifically Bvlgari is a jewellery brand, and now they do hotels, Baccarat is a crystal chandelier brand that now has a hotel in New York - this enables people to attach themselves to the brand before even being able to afford their brand - this all builds brand loyalty. 

All of this is doing what I really want to do in my life, what are my passions? Yes, they’re food, yes they’re hotels, yes all of the senses, and these things reflect who we (BPM) truly are. This isn’t because purely I see an opportunity to make money out of coffee, it is a passion of mine and is sincerely a big part of my life. I’ve created a business that has surrounded myself in things that drive me. 

So BPM is a reflection of you?

Yes! It really is a reflection of me - what I see in the world, what I see of the world, and what I truly believe in. None of it is really about this will make us money, or this will get us another sale. 

Construction of apartments is multi-faceted. And to quote Steve Jobs, “Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it is really about how it works…” - does that relate to how BPM operates?

I think that is what luxury is to me. To me, I think the term luxury has been overused. We, at BPM, when we say our apartments are luxury, its because even when we establish a one bedroom apartment, yes they’re small, but the most important thing we can do is to work out that every single item, that a young professional or couple would want, has a place in the apartment. There needs to be a place for everything. That, I think, is the core part of luxury. It is not just the aesthetics, its the comfort, the ease of using it, if you enjoy using, then there is a desire to obtain, use and retain that product.

Do you think location counts towards functionality, or lifestyle, or both? Is it the be all and end all of real estate?

It is not the be all and end all of location - but it is certainly incredibly important. We are no longer just catering to any one market. We are no longer just focusing on the investor, we want a product that is locally desired and wanted, and able to be sold into the local market, and location is a very important part of that. That is why we bought Shadowplay as it is right by the Crown Casino precinct, which many overseas people attach to; you can walk to the CBD, but you can also walk to South Melbourne Market and the leafy suburb of South Melbourne - an area that is very liked by Melbournians to live, to buy and to rent in. 

Apartments and apartment living has come under both scrutiny and praise over the last 12 months - but specifically foreign investment in Melbourne has come across some changes…

There is no doubt that Melbourne and Australia is a desirable place to live - many people across the world see us that way - we have blue skies, beautiful clean air, a respectable political system, a stable economy that is slowly growing, these are all desirable. I am happy to be living in and be a part of a city that the world desired.

Is Foreign Investment a large part of BPM’s target?

I certainly wouldn't say it is anywhere near a majority of who we target - we prefer to focus on a strong, local buyer in every product we do. Yes it [foreign investment] is part of it, but we have foreign investment in all of our products, there is no doubt that foreign investment helps establish our international brand, but our focus is local.

Design, and minimum apartment living requirements are due to be put into place, whats your thoughts on compact living?

I think that the talk about apartment design at the moment, and whether it should be regulated, will be defined by the market and what apartment sizes are appropriate. I don't think that it should be regulated, it should be up to the developer to define that - we talk about affordable living, and we are incredibly well considered, but it will be defined by the market. We established BPM’s brand by designing super high-end luxury apartments for the downsizer, and these were large apartments. It takes much more commitment to design a living space that is workable and desired that people will enjoy to live in when it is smaller. As long as it is incredibly well considered, the interior design is appropriate, there is a place for everything, I don't see any problem with apartment size it is where the apartment size is not considered or well thought out and if they are getting too small and too tight, then I don't think they suit the Melbourne market.